Riksbank probes mortgage-repayment law
Published: 15 Jan 2013 12:54 GMT+01:00
Updated: 15 Jan 2013 12:54 GMT+01:00
The head of Sweden's central bank, Stefan Ingves, said on Tuesday that the government could be forced to make Swedes pay off their mortgages if the country's banks don't "take the responsibility" themselves.
"There should be some kind of regulatory requirement on repaying housing loans," Ingves told the Dagens Nyheter newspaper (DN).
"It creates huge risks if the loans have an eternal life."
At present, it is relatively common for Swedes only to focus on their monthly interest rate payments rather than attempting also to pay down the principal on their mortgages.
"In most other countries, people pay down their mortgages to varying degrees. We're heading into a different world where we start to look like the odd one out and that increases the risks," Ingves told the TT news agency.
The best solution, according to the Riksbank head, would be if the banks could sort out the current system's shortcoming themselves "without being forced by others".
Sweden's Financial Inspectorate (Finansinspektionen, FI) is currently investigating how the system has been working so far.
"I think mandatory rules should be introduced if sufficient action is not taken [by the banks]. You can't just expect someone else to do everything," Ingves said.
"If the banks don't take the responsibility, then it will be up to the government," he said.
A spokeswoman from the SEB bank, Anna Helsén, said the bank agrees that the issue is important, but that steps are already being taken to tackle the problem.
"This is something the banks can decide, there's no need for legislation," she told TT.
"We have introduced a requirement for the home-owner to repay anything that exceeds 70 percent of the property's value. Mortgage payments are good for the customers themselves."