Money & Banking

New locker rules to compensate for loss

Our Bureau. Mumbai | Updated on August 19, 2021

But RBI limits liability of banks to 100 times the annual rent in case of fire, theft, or fraud

The Reserve Bank of India has asked banks to compensate customers an amount equivalent to 100 times the prevailing annual rent of the safe deposit locker in case of incidents such as fire, theft, burglary, dacoity, robbery, building collapse or fraud committed by bank employees.

At present, banks do not have any liability towards lockers. In February, the Supreme Court held that banks cannot wash their hands off, and gave the RBI six months to put in place guidelines for locker management.

On Wednesday, the RBI guidelines said it is the responsibility of banks to take all steps for the safety and security of the premises in which the safe deposit vaults are housed.

It asked banks to clarify in their locker agreement that since they do not have a record of the content of the locker, they would not be under any liability to insure the contents against any risk.

Further, banks shall under no circumstances offer, directly or indirectly, any product to its locker-hirers for insurance of the content.

Locker rent

To deal with potential situations where the hirer neither operates the locker nor pays the rent, the RBI said banks can obtain a Term Deposit (TD), at the time of allotment, which would cover three years’ rent and the charges for breaking open the locker in case of such eventuality.

Banks, however, should not insist on such TDs from the existing locker holders or those who have satisfactory operative accounts.

Banks shall renew their locker agreements with existing locker customers by January 1, 2023.

Locker keys and alerts

The central bank asked banks to ensure that the identification code of the bank/branch is embossed on all locker keys to enable law enforcement agencies identify ownership.

Banks are to send an email and an SMS alert to the registered email ID and mobile number of the customer before the end of the day to confirm the date and time of the locker operation and the redress mechanism available in case of unauthorised locker access.

If the locker remains inoperative for seven years and the hirer cannot be located, even if rent is being paid regularly, the bank shall be at liberty to transfer the contentto the customer’s nominees/legal heir or dispose of the articles in a transparent manner.

 

Published on August 18, 2021

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