The 'Estia' Scheme is a special government scheme drawn up by the Ministry of Finance and approved by the European Commission's Directorate-General for Competition. Its final form was approved by the Council of Ministers on 26/06/2019. Administration of the Scheme has been assigned to the Ministry of Labour, Welfare and Social Insurance, which officially announced the commencement of the Scheme on 12/07/2019 by publishing a relevant notice in the Government Gazette.
Having decided to participate in the Scheme, the Bank signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the government on 26/07/2019.
The signing of the Memorandum essentially signals the commencement of the implementation of the Scheme, the purpose of which is to deliver a socially acceptable and financially sustainable restructuring solution to vulnerable borrowers who have mortgaged their primary residence as collateral for loans they secured from the Bank and who are experiencing financial difficulties in repaying their obligations.
The Scheme boosts borrowers' ability to repay their loans, as the government subsidizes part of the repayment instalments by 1/3 of the restructured loan.
To be eligible for the scheme, borrowers must meet certain wealth, income and other criteria. In order to benefit from the Scheme, borrowers must come to an arrangement with the Bank regarding the restructuring of their loans.
The Bank had been officially accepting applications for participation to the scheme from 02/09/2019 until 31/12/2019, last day of submission period.
This is a one-off scheme providing vulnerable borrowers a unique opportunity to reset their financial obligations with the Bank, join an affordable repayment plan, and make a fresh start on a new basis.
Estia scheme offers important benefits to eligible borrowers:
- Reduced debt burden.
- A contribution from the state of one third of eligible borrowers’ interest and principal payments on the restructured loan.
- Smaller instalments and lower interest rate.
- Lengthening of repayment period, depending on the borrowers age and provided certain conditions are met.
- Securing the primary residence and putting an end to the uncertainty concerning the next steps and obligations of borrowers and their families.
The Scheme’s basic principles are:
- Borrowers must meet certain income and wealth criteria.
- Banks participating in the Scheme will offer all borrowers meeting the relevant criteria, a standardized uniform restructuring solution under predefined terms and conditions.
- Prior to loan restructuring, the Bank will assess the applicant's ability to repay and will carry out a viability assessment on the rescheduling solutions offered.
- Where the Bank determines that a restructuring solution is not viable, the Ministry of Labour will reject participation in the Scheme.
- The restructured loan amount will be equal to the lower between a) the outstanding debt secured by a primary residence at the time of restructuring and b) the open market value of the primary residence. The newly restructured loan must continue to be secured by the primary residence.
- For the first 7 years, the interest on the restructured loan is a floating rate, based on the 6-month Euribor +2.5% (with a maximum of 3.5%). For the remaining repayment period, the interest rate will revert to 6-month Euribor +2%.
- Depending on the borrower's age, the repayment period must not exceed 25 years.
- Borrowers will repay the Bank 2/3 of the loan instalments (principal and interest) according to the terms of the restructured loan.
- Via the Ministry of Labour, which will manage the Scheme, the state will cover the remaining 1/3 of the payments on the interest and the principal, once a year, provided that the borrower continues to service his/her restructured loan and pay the other 2/3.
- Where the non-performing loans are also secured by other collateral, other than the primary residence, the Bank will be able to (provided repayment ability exists) offer an additional restructured loan, the Residual loan, for an amount equal to the lower of a) the residual balance on the loan/credit facilities at the date of restructuring and b) the open market value of the other collateral.
- In case there is an outstanding amount at the date of restructuring which is not secured by other collateral, it will remain frozen and will become payable to the Bank only if the borrower defaults on the restructured loan (primary residence). This amount shall be definitively written off only upon full repayment of the restructured loan for the primary residence.
- Existing collateral/guarantees shall be maintained, and no additional collateral/guarantees shall be requested, unless certain conditions apply. Such cases pertain to applicants where, during the assessment of their repayment ability it is deemed necessary to receive additional guarantees from close relatives (up to first degree relatives) who are willing to support the applicant to repay so that the restructured loan may become sustainable.
- Applications for the Scheme may be submitted by either a) the borrower of the non-performing loans; b) the majority shareholder of a legal entity which owes the non-performing loans or; c) the owner of the primary residence wishing to undertake the repayment of the restructured loan for the primary residence.
- The Bank will examine/assess applications and forward to the Ministry of Labour the application on behalf of the borrower along with its findings. The Ministry of Labour will verify the application information and the supporting evidence and approve or reject the application.
The Scheme relates to loans and credit facilities, in all currencies, which meet certain preconditions and criteria. The main criteria are:
- The loan(s)/credit facility/facilities is/are secured by first priority or consecutive mortgages on the primary residence (main place of residence of the owner and/or members of his/her family for longer than 6 months per year).
- The market value of the primary residence does not exceed €350,000.
- Borrower had non performing facilities (more than 90 days past due) with the Bank holding a first mortgage or consecutive mortgages on primary residence, with a 20% contagion effect across all obligations of the borrower. Loans restructured after 30 September 2017 are not eligible for the Scheme.
- An applicant's annual gross household income must not exceed, per year (2017 and 2018), the following amounts:
- Single person households, maximum income €20,000 per annum.
- Family with no dependents, €35,000 per annum.
- Family with one dependent, €45,000 per annum.
- Family with two dependents, €50,000 per annum.
- Family with three dependents, €55,000 per annum.
- For families with at least four dependents, the annual household income has been set at €60,000 per annum, which is the ceiling on the annual family income.
The above also apply to single-parent families.
Family income means the gross income of all the members of the applicant's family (including the spouse and dependent children residing in the primary residence until 30/09/2017) acquired through paid employment, pensions, rent, state benefits, interest, allowances, donations, alimony etc.
- The household’s net wealth in market prices (the assets of the household, not including the primary residence, minus liabilities not including the loan secured by the primary residence) should not exceed per each year (2016, 2017, 2018) in market prices, 80% of the open market value of the primary residence, with a cap at 250,000.
- Applicants must be citizens of the European Union, residing legally and continuously within the EU since 2013.
- Applicants must consent in writing to access to, verification and checking of their financial data by the Ministry of Labour.
Submission period expired on 31/12/2019. As per the relevant extension given by the Ministry of Finance due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the relevant prevention measures, borrowers may submit any missing supporting documentation until 30/07/2020, to accompany any applications which have been submitted on or before 31/12/2019.
Only duly completed applications, accompanied by all supporting documentation required, will be processed and forwarded to the Ministry of Labour, Welfare and Social Insurance.
Application submissions will be firstly assessed by the Estia Unit set up by the Bank for this purpose. They will next be forwarded to the Ministry of Labour, which will take the final decision on whether to approve or reject an application.
The application form, the instructions guide and the scheme as approved by the Council of Ministers can be found ready to be printed here:
* Please note that all documents are in Greek.
Where a borrower does not meet eligibility criteria, the Bank is willing to provide alternative loan restructuring solutions.