Getting a Joint Mortgage When One Applicant Has Bad Credit

illustration of Getting a Joint Mortgage When One Applicant Has Bad Credit

If you need a joint mortgage but one of you has bad credit, that doesn’t mean you can’t still find your dream home.

In this Guide, we’ll explain everything you need to know when applying for a joint mortgage with an adverse credit applicant. We’ll explain what different lenders will be looking for in order to approve your application, and what you can do to improve your chances of being accepted.

Can I get a joint mortgage if one applicant has bad credit?

Yes, it’s still possible to get a joint mortgage, even if one of you has bad credit. However, it’ll be more difficult than if you both had perfect credit scores.

When lenders look at your application, your partner’s credit history will be viewed alongside your own. Most lenders will add your credit scores together, and you’ll need to meet their minimum score to be considered. So if one of you has a really good credit rating then this can work in your favour. 

Whether or not your application is approved will depend on the severity of any issues on your credit file. Lenders will also want to know how long ago the issue was, how much money was involved, and what has been done since to improve. For example, bankruptcies and payday loans will be looked on less favourably than a few missed payments every now and then.

Read more about this in our Guide: How to get a joint mortgage with bad credit. 

It’s a good idea to let your mortgage broker know about any adverse credit history before starting your application. The brokers we work with have seen it all, and aren’t judgemental. By being upfront about anything that could affect your application, they’ll be able to look through your options and find a lender who’s likely to accept you. Get matched to a broker.

How do lenders assess a joint mortgage application?

It’s important to remember that your credit score isn’t the only thing lenders will be looking at. For a joint mortgage application, the following factors will be considered:

The size of your deposit

The bigger your deposit, the more likely you are to be accepted. It shows you’re making a bigger commitment, and it minimises the risk to the lender by lending to someone with adverse credit history. That’s not to say you’ll need to save a huge deposit - there’s government schemes available for people who can’t save a lot - but it’ll certainly improve your chances. 

Your employment situation

Lenders view your employment as a reflection of how stable you are financially. This can make things tricky if your income isn't straightforward such as a freelancer or a contractor. It’s still possible, you’ll just need to find the right lender who’ll look at your individual circumstances. Read more in our Self Employed Mortgage Guide.

Your individual incomes

Most lenders will look at your incomes individually rather than a combined total. As part of their affordability, they’ll be testing to see what would happen if one of you lost your job and the other had to pay the whole mortgage for a while. Most of the time, they’ll be looking hardest at the person with the lower income. Passing the affordability checks can be a worry. Some big banks and high street lenders might turn you down if an applicant’s income is too low. In this case, you'll need a specialist mortgage broker who knows the market and which lenders will be most likely to accept you. 

Your individual credit histories

Lenders look at your credit history to get an idea of how reliable you are as a borrower. With any bad credit issues, it’s best to face them head on. Finding out where your score currently stands is the best place to start. You’ll then have a better idea of what you need to do to improve. 

We recommend checkmyfile, because it’s the most thorough overview of your credit history available in the UK. 

Read our Guide: checkmyfile Explained to see how it could help your mortgage application. 

Your marital status

Generally, lenders will require both of you to be named on the mortgage if you’re married, especially if it’s a specialist lender. Lenders will also grant joint mortgages to applicants who are unmarried couples, friends or family members.

What causes bad credit?

Anyone can fall into bad credit for a number of reasons. Life happens, and perhaps an illness or separation has caused a missed or late bill payment. Perhaps you’ve needed a payday loan or applied for too many credit cards at once. Sometimes these things can result in CCJs, IVAs, a debt management plan (DMP) or even bankruptcy. All of these can affect your credit score.

When you have bad credit, you're considered riskier than other borrowers, so it can be harder to get a good deal with competitive interest rates. If you have very poor credit, you may find you're turned down flat by some of the mainstream lenders.

Read more about what makes a bad credit score in our Guide: What is a Bad Credit Score?

How long does bad credit last?

Most credit issues disappear from your report after six years. Any accounts that you leave open will stay on your history. UK credit reference agencies need to adhere to the Data Protection Act, which means data can't be held for longer than necessary. This is why accounts you keep open stay on your record, and closed accounts are deleted after six years.

Even if something’s gone from your file, it’s a good idea to be honest when applying for something like a mortgage. It’ll save you time, money and potential disappointment further down the line.

How does bad credit affect my partner?

If you don’t have any type of joint account or credit with your partner then you won’t be financially linked. Even if you’re married. It’s a common misconception that marriage automatically ties your finances together. The only way you and your partner share finances is if you take out a joint bank account, mortgage or loan.

For joint accounts, such as a mortgage, you’re not just responsible for half of the loan. You’re agreeing to pay off the whole debt if the other person can’t pay. You’re both liable for any joint debt.

Beware of any old accounts you might have with a previous partner. Any active joint accounts will see the other person named as a ‘financial associate’ on your credit report. If they have bad credit it could work against you further, making things harder than they need to be. It’s best to check your credit report and remove yourself from any accounts that you don’t need. 

If you or your partner has a bad credit history, it’s worth doing everything possible to improve your score before applying for a mortgage. With credit issues, it’s better to tackle them headfirst. Understanding how the bad credit came about will go a long way. Read more in our Guide: How to Improve Your Credit Score Before You Apply for a Mortgage

What credit score do I need to get a joint mortgage?

There isn’t a specific score needed to get a mortgage, because there isn’t a universally recognised credit score. When you apply for a mortgage, lenders look at a number of factors to assess your risk and work out if you'll be able to make the repayments without struggling. 

Checking how you score across the main UK credit agencies before applying for a mortgage will give you an idea of how risky you might look to lenders. You can do this for free with a trial of checkmyfile.

How to improve your chances of getting a joint mortgage accepted

Applying for a mortgage can feel scary. It’s even more of a worry if one of you has bad credit. The good news is it’s totally possible to get a mortgage with a low credit rating. You’ll just need to do as much as you can to help your application. 

Make easy changes to your credit report

There are some small factors which can affect your credit rating. Some quick fixes to get you started include:

  • Register to vote at your current address

  • Check your credit file for errors and report them

  • Don’t apply for too much credit at once 

  • Put your name on the household bills – and pay them on time

  • Keep a fixed address as much as possible

  • Pay at least the minimum balance on your credit cards each month - ideally more than that

  • Try not to withdraw cash from your credit card

  • Don’t max out your credit cards

Get a specialist mortgage broker

If you have bad credit, it’s a really good idea to work with a specialist mortgage broker. A qualified mortgage advisor will have access to the lenders who’ll look at your application and consider your unique circumstances. They’ll help you through the entire journey, from application right through to completion. They know the market, and will make your application look as appealing as possible to lenders. 

A mortgage broker can: 

  • Ease the stress of applying for a mortgage

  • Give you access to a wider range of mortgages that you wouldn’t be able to find directly

  • Help with complex situations

  • Speed up the process and act as your advocate when talking to the lender

  • Help you find the best insurance

  • Factor in any additional needs you might have

Apply for a sole mortgage

Most lenders will want all anyone who’s living at the property to be on the mortgage application. However, some lenders will consider just one of you if you have a good credit history. You’ll still have to pass the affordability checks - a lender will want to know you can manage the mortgage repayments on your own without struggling.

Be patient

Any marks on your credit file will lose their impact the older they get. If you’re working to improve your financial situation then this will look better to lenders. If you can, it might be better to wait before applying for a mortgage while your credit score repairs. Having a stable income or large deposit before applying for a mortgage will be more likely to offset any bad credit history and make you look less risky to a lender.

Be honest

You shouldn’t try to hide any negative credit issues. Mortgage applications are really thorough, so lenders will probably find out anyway. Having an explanation for why you found yourself in financial difficulty, and what you’ve been doing to get out of it since, will look a lot better to lenders. Life happens, and you’re only human – but be upfront about it.

We only do bad credit mortgages here. So we completely understand the frustration having a poor credit history can cause. We take mental health seriously. If you’re feeling worried about how your credit history might affect your mortgage application, get in touch with us to discuss your options.

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50% of mortgages for people who are self-employed or have bad credit aren’t available directly to you. They’re only available through specialist brokers. Using our platform guarantees you’ll be matched with a broker who has a proven track record of making mortgages possible for people like you. Less processing, more understanding.

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