The Central Bank has published changes to guidelines aimed at protecting mortgage holders struggling with repayments.

A new provision prevents lenders from imposing arrears charges or extra interest on people who are in arrears, but who are co-operating with the new Mortgage Arrears Resolution Process (MARP) with effect from 1 January.

The MARP is a framework which must be developed by all lenders to handle cases where homeowners are struggling with repayments.

The Central Bank says the changes to the Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears have been made following the recommendations of a Government expert group.

The revised code will apply to mortgage lenders from 1 January.

Among other changes, the code will now apply to people who tell banks that they could be at risk of falling into arrears.

The revised code also puts limits on the number of unsolicited communications banks can make with mortgage holders in difficulty.

The code also prevents lenders from forcing people in arrears to change from a tracker mortgage to another mortgage type.