Major Chinese banks have allowed clients in some cities and provinces hard-hit by Covid-19 to delay their mortgage payments to assist clients with payment difficulties at a crucial moment in the fight against the pandemic.

Postal Savings Bank of China Co Ltd (PSBC), a large state-owned commercial lender, allowed four types of clients to delay mortgage payments for up to six months.

These are clients who are hospitalised after being infected with Covid-19 or housed in isolation facilities, those taking part in the prevention and control of the pandemic, those who are put under quarantine and medical observation due to disease prevention, those and who temporarily lose their sources of income due to the pandemic.

PSBC will help those clients adjust to Covid-19-related late payment records on their credit reports to protect their credit.

Bank of Communications Co Ltd recently launched a set of measures to support Shanghai in its Covid-19 battle. The Shanghai-based large state-owned commercial lender has allowed mortgage payment deferrals for up to three months for medical workers and government employees participating in the prevention and control of the pandemic, confirmed and suspected Covid-19 patients, people housed in isolation and quarantine facilities, and their spouses.

The Jilin branch of Bank of China Ltd (BOC), another large state-owned commercial lender, has allowed clients in Jilin province who meet the bank’s criteria to delay mortgage payments for a maximum of three months. As Jilin has been hit hard by the Covid-19 resurgence, the branch said it will give the nod to further deferrals appropriately if the pandemic lasts longer.

BOC’s Shanghai branch said mortgage borrowers are allowed to raise objections to late payment records on their credit reports caused by the pandemic and ask the bank to make corrections accordingly.

Other large state-owned commercial banks also announced measures to temporarily relieve clients of the pressure they face on mortgage payments. Some national joint-stock commercial lenders, such as China Zheshang Bank Co Ltd based in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, even allowed personal clients to defer consumer loan and credit card payments, in addition to mortgage payments.

As of the end of 2021, the balance of individual mortgages in China was 38.32 trillion yuan ($6 trillion), up 11.3 per cent year-on-year, according to the People’s Bank of China, the country’s central bank.

Non-performing loan (NPL) ratios for mortgages of large state-owned commercial banks and several A-share listed national joint-stock commercial banks, which had announced their 2021 annual results by April 14, were lower than 0.5 per cent at the end of last year.

The figures were well below the NPL ratio of commercial banks in China at the end of the fourth quarter, which stood at 1.73 per cent.