A Dunedin woman says a $187 Christmas shopping trip to Kmart in Invercargill has prevented her getting a mortgage for urgently needed repairs on her home.
Kim Anderson-Robb is one of many people being tripped up by new changes to the Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act.
The change, which was intended to protect vulnerable borrowers from loan sharks, means banks have to crack down on applicants' spending before they can approve loans.
Anderson-Robb and her husband needed to make urgent repairs to their Wakari home late last year.
It needed a complete rewiring after asbestos was found in the fuse box, and the deck, which is the only way of accessing the house, was "completely rotten to the point we will probably fall through it soon" and needed to be replaced, Anderson-Robb said.
The bathroom was also in need of upgrading, the couple said.
The couple had a $63,000 mortgage and many years of work ahead of them. They wanted to increase their mortgage by $80,000 to get the repairs done.
The 53-year-old applied to her bank, which she has been with for nearly 20 years, but was declined the loan because of a trip to Kmart in Invercargill, a $100 spend at the Warehouse, and a credit card she had not used in over a year, she said.
Bank staff also queried her husband's daily trip to the dairy to buy a drink for when he was at work.
She was "incredibly shocked and bloody frustrated" when the application was declined.
"We've had a mortgage for 17 years, never missed a payment, never asked for a mortgage holiday so I'd say we are a pretty good customer," she said.
Anderson-Robb, a support worker, thought that she and her husband, who works on a poultry farm, lived "financially comfortably".
"We are on good money but they declined our application because of a one-off trip to buy Christmas presents and a bloody drink.
Anderson-Robb had almost given up on getting a mortgage and the couple would have to save up instead, she said.
The new rules were "incredibly hard" on homeowners and she felt for younger people trying to get into the market.
"It's just so bloody tough and I really, really feel for them."
Multiple people in similar situations commented on an Otago Daily Times report about the rule changes yesterday.
Another Dunedin woman, who declined to be named, said her mortgage application was declined because she spent too much at restaurants.
She needed a loan extension for urgent repairs to her roof, and her and her husband's combined annual income was $200,000.
Her bank, which she had been with for nearly 20 years and had two mortgages with during that time, told her they were spending too much on eating out and therefore could not lend her the money, she said.
"It is bloody ridiculous. Do they expect us to live like monks?"
The couple would spend three months watching "very carefully" what they spent money on, so they could go to the bank to try again.
"After those three months, we'll be straight back to the restaurants, so what is the point?" the woman said.
- By Riley Kennedy, ODT