The entry into negative territory for the Euribor and the lowering of the interest rate to 0% by the European Bank has created a completely new scenario for mortgages in Spain. The banks themselves will have to pay their customers for having lent them money to buy their homes.
Hence, financial institutions have begun to shield their mortgage contracts with the so-called zero clauses, which are nothing more than the establishment of a ceiling, the 0 ceiling, by the bank to avoid losses in the event that the interest rate is negative. But are zero clauses legal, and should I accept them if I am going to sign a mortgage loan?
Currently, there is no legal regulation that talks about these clauses, however, in our opinion, they have little to do with the well-known floor clauses, which have been a clear abuse by the banks by guaranteeing themselves an income that could be, and in fact has been, much higher than the average market interest rate.
The reasons why floor clauses have been annulled lie, firstly, in the lack of transparency of the bank, which has not informed its client of what the inclusion of this clause meant and, secondly, in its complete disproportionality, since the mortgagor had to pay amounts much higher than the average market interest rate.
The inclusion of the floor clause is also being accompanied by other practices that are just as unfair as the floor clause itself and, as an example, it is sufficient to cite the banks’ search for agreements with their clients to reduce or cancel the floor clause if the retroactivity is waived, practices which, moreover, are also beginning to be declared unlawful in the courts.
On the contrary, in principle, it does not seem that the zero clause involves the introduction of an abusive condition that is included with a lack of transparency and information or disproportionality, but rather responds to the fair intention of including a protective measure for the financial institution: that of not having to pay for providing a service.