Rights and duties when taking out loans

Bank customers have a set of rights and duties when taking out loans.

 

Rights

Before taking out a loan, bank customers are entitled to obtain clear and complete information about all the loan’s characteristics, conditions and costs.

This information must be included in the:

  • European standardised information sheet (ESIS), in the case of home loans and other mortgage loans;

  • Standardised information sheet (SIS), in the case of consumer credit.

The ESIS and SIS are designed to facilitate the comparison between different proposals and allow customers to make a decision appropriate to their needs and financial situation.

The credit institution should assess the creditworthiness of customers, i.e. their ability to repay the loan, and evaluate the suitability of the loan product to the goals and risks customers are willing to take.

The institution must clarify all doubts customers may have and present a rigorous evaluation of the risks that customers run when taking out the loan.

Bank customers are entitled to receive a draft of the agreement prior to signing it and to receive a copy of the agreement when the credit agreement is entered into.

During the term of the agreement, bank customers are entitled to receive a detailed statement periodically with information on the evolution of the loan.

Bank customers can repay all or part of the loan before the end of the loan period.

Customers must notify the institution in advance and may have to pay a refund fee.

Duties

Before entering into a loan agreement, bank customers should carefully consider whether their income is sufficient to ensure payment of the debts they intend to incur.

Bank customers should be aware that loan instalments constitute a permanent monthly expenditure of the family budget, with impact until the loan is repaid in full.

Customers should be aware that credit institutions provide loans with different characteristics and purposes and therefore it is very important to choose the most appropriate loan for what they intend to buy.

Bank customers should read the information provided by the credit institution, namely:

  • the European standardised information sheet (ESIS), for home loans and other mortgage loans;

  • the standardised information sheet (SIS), in the case of consumer credit.

The ESIS and SIS describe the main characteristics of the respective loan.

Customers should evaluate the conditions of the loan and the contractual clauses, compare several proposals and choose the one that best suits their needs.

If offered the optional purchase of other products and services to benefit from more favourable terms in the loan to be contracted, customers must inquire about the cost of the loan with and without cross-selling and about the consequences of giving up one or more products during the contract.

By choosing to purchase other financial products or services to benefit, for example, from a lower spread, if customers give up any of these products or services, the credit institution may increase the spread of the loan, under the terms provided in the credit agreement.

However, in the case of home loans and other mortgage loans, this increase can only be made by the credit institution within one year of the bank customer deciding not to contract these other products or services. After a year, the credit institution loses the right to do so.

Customers should read the draft agreement carefully and clear up all doubts with the institution (or credit intermediary, if applicable) before signing the contract.

Bank customers must provide the credit institution with true and complete information about their economic situation in order for the institution to properly assess the risk of the loan.

The institution is obliged to assess the creditworthiness of the customer before contracting the loan and, during its term, if there is an increase in the amount financed.

To do this, bank customers must provide the information and documents requested by the credit institution regarding their income and expenses.

During the term of the agreement, customers must keep their data updated, promptly communicating to the credit institution any changes of address and other relevant circumstances.

Bank customers must pay promptly the agreed instalments and fees.

Customers must use the funds for the purpose agreed in the agreement.

Customers must also inform the credit institution of any difficulties in paying the loans contracted so that the institution can take measures to avoid default.

Bank customers may redeem savings plans in advance (retirement savings plan and education savings plan) to pay instalments of mortgage-backed credit agreements on the permanent residence of the respective participant. Only deliveries made in the last five years, at least, can be redeemed in advance without loss of tax benefits.