Due to compliance delays, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI ) on Monday extended the time for banks to renew their customer agreements for locker facilities to December 31, 2023.
The previous deadline was January 1, 2023, communicated through a circular on August 18, 2021.
The central bank noted that many customers have yet to sign the revised agreement, and in many cases, banks have yet to inform them about the need to do so before the January 1 deadline.
Accordingly, the deadline has been extended to December 31, 2023, for renewals in a phased manner, with 50 per cent completed by June 30 and 75 per cent by September 30, 2023.
Further, banks have been advised to make arrangements, like ensuring the availability of stamp papers, etc., to facilitate the execution of the revised agreements, the latest circular said.
In addition, it said if lockers were 'frozen' due to the non-execution of agreements by January 1, 2023, the same should be unfrozen immediately.
The central bank said that instructions in this regard were already issued to the banks .
As per RBI’s August 18 notification, the locker agreements must be in the same model as drafted by the Indian Bank Association (IBA). It said banks must ensure that the agreements do not contain any unfair terms or conditions. In addition, to safeguard banks’ interests, “the terms of the contract shall not be more onerous than required in the ordinary course of business”.
RBI has also made it mandatory for banks to obtain a term deposit from the customers during locker allotments to protect them from losses if the customer fails to pay the rent or stops operating the locker. It will cover rent for three years and charges to break open the vault if the need arises.
“Banks, however, shall not insist on such term deposits from existing locker holders or those who have satisfactory operative accounts,” the notification said. The nominee will get full access to the locker if the original owner dies without a will. And if there was no nominee or a will, the legal heirs must comply with specific rules and submit the necessary documents to claim the locker.
As a rule, banks have been collecting the locker rent in advance over the past year. But if one surrenders the locker prematurely, banks will refund an appropriate amount of the advance rent collected.