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Man spends 6 months protesting at RBC headquarters claiming mistake made on his mortgage

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Gerald Comeau has been leading a one man protest in front of Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) headquarters in downtown Toronto for the past six months.

Despite working two jobs, Comeau told CTV News Toronto he comes down almost every day to protest with a sign, chanting: “Shame on me, for trusting RBC.”

Comeau claims he paid a $30,000 penalty to break his five year fixed mortgage in April 2021, so he could sign up for another five year mortgage that had a rate of two per cent.

But he said when interest rates started going up, so did his monthly mortgage payments.

“I got a call from the bank that said, ‘Oh, Mr. Comeau your rates have gone up four times already.’ I said, ‘No, you’ve got the wrong guy. I broke my mortgage last year, which cost me $30,000 and I got a fixed mortgage,’" Comeau said.

That’s when the bank told Comeau the contract he signed was for a variable rate mortgage.

“Two months I was telling them what I wanted and why I wanted it and they said, ‘Too bad, you should have read it before you signed it,’” he said. “Now, I pay $1,100 a month more for this and that's on top of the $30,000 I paid to break the mortgage.”

In a statement to CTV News Toronto, Cheryl Brean, Director, Communications, Personal & Commercial Banking with RBC, said they couldn’t speak on the specifics of Comeau’s case due to client privacy but that the matter is being taken seriously.

“RBC has a process in place to help our variable rate mortgage clients understand the impacts of unprecedented and rapid prime rate increases. We proactively reach out to clients to discuss available options and we also encourage clients to contact RBC if they have questions or concerns,” the statement reads.

Leah Zlatkin, a mortgage broker with Mortgage Outlet, said many Canadians are feeling the pinch of higher mortgage payments due to rising interest rates.

“We don't know if this is the end of variable rate hikes,” said Zlatkin.

Zlatkin said you must have a complete and thorough understanding of any mortgage document before signing it.

“You need to make sure you understand all the fine print, that you understand every single line of that contract and understand the penalties associated with moving your mortgage, along with what the possible upside and downside is going to be for making that decision,” said Zlatkin.

Comeau says he will continue his protest in front of RBC headquarters until he gets the mortgage he believes he signed up for.

“I want them to honour what I thought I was getting. A two per cent fixed mortgage over five years," said Comeau.

If you decide to break your mortgage early, the penalty with a variable rate mortgage is generally three months interest. But with a fixed mortgage, it's the interest rate differential, which depending on your mortgage, could be tens of thousands of dollars. 

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