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Getting A Business Loan? Here Are The Terms You Should Look Out For

Posted 1 years ago

Getting A Business Loan? Here Are The Terms You Should Look Out For
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Let’s face it, how closely do you read the small print in all the contracts you sign? All of us, at one time or another have skim-read the seemingly immeasurable pages of terms and conditions that come as part of any product/service or loan. 

As tempting as it is to avoid having to read through the various conditions that come with signing up for a particular service, failing to understand important information can be risky. The fine print tells you what will happen if making loan repayments becomes challenging. And as banks have been more reluctant to lend following the fallout from the recent crisis, applying for business loans from online lenders has grown in popularity.

When you borrow money for your business from a reputable loan crowdsourcing platform, there’s little reason to think that the terms and conditions will be anything unusual or onerous, or anything but transparent. But that doesn’t mean that the details aren’t important, or potentially damaging to your business if you fail to make repayments. 

With that in mind - we’ve highlighted the small print terms that you should pay particular attention to when applying for a business loan. Remember, at NextFin we offer the facility to apply for loans. Whatever your circumstances, visit our Loans page for further details. 

Fees and charges

Arrangement fees and APR (Annual Percentage Rate) ought to be transparent from the outset of any application; they’re the basis for your comparisons between lending providers - but they’re not the only figures to factor into your calculations. You should also look for additional fees and charges within the terms and conditions to be sure you’re aware of any extra costs for repayments, early settlements or missed payments. If repaying early is a real possibility, you want to be sure your loan is flexible enough that you won’t be penalised for doing so. 

Default interest

Your loan agreement should set out due dates for each segment of loan repayment; if you miss or are late with a repayment, it’s possible that default interest will be charged. In essence, this is additional interest charged on the amount you have failed to pay, and is usually calculated daily from the date you should have made the payment to the date you do make the payment. The rate of interest will be set out within the terms of the loan - make sure to check what could be in store if you miss a payment. 

Further assurance

You’ll need to pass credit checks, meet repayment assessments and provide company accounts in order to qualify for a business loan - but that may not be the only time you need to give lenders a look at your finances. Further assurance clauses can require borrowers to demonstrate to lenders, investors and/or the peer-to-peer lending platform that the business is in healthy financial shape at any time during the loan repayment period. 

Personal guarantee

The majority of loans taken out will involve the borrower offering a personal guarantee against the loan. A personal guarantee is much more than a promise to ‘do your best’, and the word ‘personal’ hints at the real risks associated. It isn’t just the business that would be liable in the event of failure to repay, it’s the director offering the personal guarantee and his or her personal assets. If your contract stipulates a personal guarantee, be sure that you understand that your family assets could be at stake. For example, Funding Circle, the biggest P2P lender, asks for a personal guarantee on loans. And although you have not secured the loan against your home, it could be at risk. A creditor has the right in default to take you to court for the money you owe them, and if awarded the judgement, they can pursue options that could involve repossession of your assets and placing charges on them, including your home. This will normally have masses of charges, on top of the original fee. 

Reliance

Taking out a loan is a risk. How great a risk depends on the amount, the affordability and flexibility of repayment terms, and the extent of your liability in the event of failing to make repayments on time or defaulting. The reliance clause is there to protect lenders, investors and online lending platforms against any claim that you didn’t understand all the risks involved in requesting a loan. Quite simply, by signing, you accept the reliance clause stating that you have not relied on the words of the lender or platform in assessing the loan – you take responsibility for appraising and investigating the risks yourself.

Restrictions

These are the limitations of your loan, sometimes known as the loan covenant. These special terms set out certain things you agree to do or not to do. Typical examples include taking out additional loans which might take priority over the loan you’re signing for in the event of default, or loans over a certain value – or perhaps any loan at all. Be sure to check the special conditions of any credit agreement to make sure you don’t risk contravening the agreement in the months and years ahead.

Security

Loans are typically either secured or unsecured. A secured loan means the money is offered against certain assets – property, investments, vehicles, stock or other items – known as security. If the borrower defaults then the security may be sold to repay the debt. It’s easy to assume that an unsecured loan means that the possessions of the company or owners of the business are safe from repossession in the event of default, but that’s not always the case. Do your due diligence and take advice on your exposure to risk.

If you’re in any doubt at all about the meaning, implications or risks of any loan and its terms and conditions, we strongly recommend consulting a suitably qualified independent financial adviser before you sign.

Authors: Oliver Murphy & Sacha Bright

Disclaimer

To the best of our knowledge, the information we have provided is correct at the time of publishing. Sacha Bright is not a solicitor or accountant and we recommend that you seek professional advice on any topic discussed.



Tagged: Business Loan P2P SME Finance Alternative Finance



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