Mortgage with a bad credit

Last updated: May 2024 | 3 min read

Securing a mortgage with a poor credit history can be challenging, but not impossible in the UK. However, you may face higher interest rates and larger deposit requirements. Explore the options detailed in this article and improve your chances of approval.

Aspiring to own a house but struggling with a bad credit? Continue reading to learn all about managing to obtain a mortgage approval while having a bad credit report. Also learn about what types of mortgages are available in the UK.

What is 'bad credit'?

Bad credit refers to a person's history of failing to keep up with payments on credit agreements, leading to a lower credit rating.

In the mortgage arena, this rating influences lenders' decisions and terms.

A bad credit history includes missed payments, defaults, and county court judgements (CCJs), impacting one's ability to secure traditional mortgage deals.

How does bad credit affect mortgage options?

Mortgage options tend to narrow with a bad credit score. Most high street lenders may reject applications from individuals with a history of financial mismanagement.

However, specialist lenders focus on offering mortgages to those with poor credit scores. They usually charge higher interest rates, reflecting the increased risk.

Types of bad credit: from missed payments to CCJs

Bad credit varies in severity. Missed or late payments on credit agreements, from utility bills to credit cards, can lower credit scores.

More severe issues like defaults, debt management plans, or CCJs significantly impact credit history.

Each of these factors shapes the options available for mortgages, with severe bad credit often leading to higher interest rates and the need for a larger deposit.

What are bad credit mortgages?

Bad credit mortgages, also known as adverse credit mortgages, cater to individuals with a less-than-perfect credit history.

Unlike typical mortgage products, these are specifically designed for those who've faced financial difficulties leading to a poor credit rating.

Lenders offering these mortgages understand that your past financial issues don't necessarily dictate your current financial stability.

Differences between bad credit and standard mortgages

The main distinction between bad credit and standard mortgages lies in their accessibility and terms. Bad credit mortgages are tailored for individuals with low credit scores, reflecting a history of credit mismanagement such as late payments or defaults.

Due to the higher risk involved, these mortgages often come with higher interest rates and may require a larger deposit compared to standard mortgages.

They also might entail closer scrutiny of your financial situation.

How do bad credit mortgages work?

Bad credit mortgages operate much like any other mortgage, but with adjustments to offset the lender's increased risk.

Interest rates will be higher, and the deposit required might be more substantial than for those with a good credit score.

Mortgage lenders assess your current financial stability, income, debts, and the severity of your credit issues.

They may also consider the reasons behind your bad credit rating. Understanding these factors can help you prepare for a mortgage application, despite your credit history.

Assessing your credit situation

Your credit report is a detailed record of your financial behaviour, including loans, credit card usage, and bill payments. This report is scrutinised by mortgage lenders to evaluate your creditworthiness.

Your credit score, a numerical value derived from your credit report, quantifies your credit health. A higher score boosts your chances of mortgage approval, often with better terms.

What mortgage lenders look for

Mortgage lenders look for patterns in credit usage, repayment histories, and any defaults or late payments. This scrutiny extends to the frequency and recency of any credit issues.

Mortgage lenders use this information to assess the risk associated with lending to you.

Impact of different credit issues on mortgage prospects

Various credit issues have differing impacts on your mortgage prospects. Late payments, defaults, County Court Judgements (CCJs), and Individual Voluntary Arrangements (IVAs) can all reduce your likelihood of mortgage approval.

Lenders particularly consider the severity and frequency of these issues. A more recent issue, for instance, carries more weight than older problems.

Each credit issue typically stays on your record for six years, influencing how lenders view your mortgage application.

Improving your chances of getting a mortgage with bad credit

Improving your low credit rating stands as a feasible pathway to enhancing mortgage approval odds. Start by scrutinising your credit report. Regular checks ensure accuracy and highlight areas for improvement.

Rectify any discrepancies immediately. Aim to settle overdue accounts, focusing on those with the highest impact on your credit score.

Consistently meeting credit card payments and reducing outstanding debt gradually boost your rating. Building a history of financial reliability involves patience and discipline, but gradually, your credit score will improve, broadening your mortgage options.

We have a detailed article on helpful ideas to improve your credit score.

How to rectify errors in your credit report

Errors in your credit report can adversely affect your mortgage application. On noticing discrepancies, contact the relevant credit reference agency. Provide substantial evidence to support your claim.

The agency usually responds within 28 days. If the issue persists, escalate the matter to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Regular monitoring of your credit file prevents such errors from hindering your mortgage prospects.

Keeping your credit report accurate and up to date is a must in maintaining a healthy credit history.

Strategies to manage debt impacting your credit

You must aim to effectively manage existing debt. Prioritise debts with the highest interest rates, typically credit cards and personal loans.

Consider debt consolidation as a means to lower interest rates and simplify monthly payments. Adhering to a budget facilitates timely bill payments, preventing further credit damage.

Debt management plans, while helpful, may influence lenders' perceptions. They can signal financial distress, which might affect mortgage approval decisions. Nevertheless, showing a responsible and proactive approach to managing debt demonstrates to lenders your commitment to financial stability.

How can mortgage brokers help?

Mortgage brokers can be invaluable in finding a mortgage with bad credit. A specialist mortgage broker has expertise and experience with poor credit scenarios. They understand which mortgage lenders accept applications from those with bad credit histories, including issues like late or missed payments, debt management plans, or previous mortgage arrears.

Brokers not only help identify the most suitable lenders but can also offer advice on how to improve your application. They often have established relationships with specialist bad credit mortgage lenders and can negotiate terms on your behalf.

Brokers might charge a fee for their services, so it's wise to confirm any costs upfront.

Finding the right mortgage lender for bad credit

High street vs specialist mortgage lenders

Mortgage lenders differ in their approaches to bad credit. High street lenders often have stringent criteria, mostly favouring applicants with stronger credit histories.

Their hesitation stems from a policy to minimise risk. Most lenders prefer clients whose credit files exhibit financial reliability. Bad credit can sometimes lead to immediate disqualification with these lenders.

Specialist mortgage lenders, on the other hand, cater specifically to individuals with poor credit. They understand that a low credit score doesn’t always indicate current financial irresponsibility.

Specialist lenders assess each case's unique aspects, such as the reasons behind a poor credit history and recent improvements in financial behaviour. These lenders usually have more flexibility in their loan offerings but might charge higher interest rates to offset the perceived increased risk.

Researching bad credit mortgage lenders online

In the digital age, researching mortgage options with bad credit has become more manageable. Start by visiting the websites of various mortgage lenders to understand their products, criteria, and approach towards bad credit. Look for lenders who advertise their services as 'bad credit mortgage lenders' or those offering 'adverse credit mortgages'. These phrases signal a willingness to consider applications with a poor credit history.

Many financial comparison websites also offer tools like a bad credit mortgage calculator. These tools help you gauge what you might be able to borrow, and the interest rates based on your credit situation. While these calculators provide estimates, they're useful for initial planning.

Applying for a mortgage with bad credit

Documents and preparation

Gathering the right documents is the first step when applying for a mortgage with bad credit. Lenders require recent payslips, bank statements, and past tax returns to verify income and financial habits.

These documents paint a clearer picture of financial stability, which is necessary for those with a poor credit score. Ensuring all paperwork is accurate and up to date improves the chances of a successful application.

The application process

The application process for a bad credit mortgage may seem daunting, but knowledge is power. Prospective homeowners should expect thorough checks by lenders.

This includes scrutinising credit reports, income, outgoings, and any existing debt. Transparency about past financial issues can be helpful.

Openly discuss any missed payments or defaults listed in the credit file. When you realise that this process differs from standard mortgage applications, mainly due to the higher risk involved, it helps set realistic expectations.

How lenders assess bad credit mortgage applications

Mortgage lenders, when assessing applications from those with adverse credit histories, consider the severity, frequency, and reasons behind issues like missed payments or mortgage arrears.

Lenders also evaluate current income stability and the steps taken to remedy past financial mistakes. A well-managed bank account and evidence of improved financial habits can positively influence the lender's decision.

This scrutiny means having a clear understanding and documentation of one's financial journey.

Costs and considerations of bad credit mortgages

Interest rates and fees

Interest rates and fees influence the cost of a bad credit mortgage. You'll often find higher interest rates with these mortgages.

Lenders view borrowers with bad credit scores as higher risk. Therefore, they charge more to mitigate this risk.

Try to compare these rates among various lenders. Each lender calculates risk differently, resulting in varying rates.

Keep an eye on arrangement fees as well. Sometimes, these can be higher for mortgages tailored to bad credit profiles. They could be a flat fee or a percentage of the loan amount. Always factor these into your overall costs.

Comparing both interest rates and fees will help you understand the full financial impact.

The total cost of a bad credit mortgage

The total cost of a mortgage with bad credit extends beyond the initial interest rate and fees. Consider the mortgage's duration. Longer terms might reduce monthly payments but increase the total interest paid over time.

Every mortgage deal has its nuances. Some may include charges for early repayments or have specific terms affecting the total cost.

Consider using a bad credit mortgage calculator for an accurate picture. These tools factor in your bad credit score, loan amount, property value, and other details, providing a more comprehensive view of the long-term financial commitment.

The long-term impact of a higher interest rate

A higher interest rate affects your finances over the mortgage's lifespan. It's not just about higher monthly payments. Over years, this can amount to a significant sum.

For instance, on a 25-year mortgage, even a small percentage increase in interest rates can translate to thousands of pounds.

This influences not just your current budget but also your financial future. Think about how it affects your ability to save, invest, or manage unexpected expenses.

Balancing your desire for a home against these long-term financial implications is key.

Sometimes, waiting to improve your credit score could lead to more favourable mortgage deals, reducing the financial strain over time.

Deposits and loan-to-value (LTV) ratios

How much deposit is needed for bad credit mortgages?

Bad credit mortgages often require a larger deposit compared to standard mortgages. For those with adverse credit histories, the deposit acts as a risk mitigator.

The minimum deposit for a bad credit mortgage starts around 15% to 20% of the property's value. In some cases, it could be higher.

This larger deposit compensates for the perceived increased risk. You, as a mortgage seeker, should be aware that each lender has different requirements and deposit percentages can vary.

Explaining loan-to-value rates and implications

Loan-to-value (LTV) ratios are fundamental in understanding mortgages. LTV represents the proportion of the property's value that your mortgage covers. For instance, if you buy a property worth £200,000 with a mortgage of £150,000, the LTV is 75%.

A higher LTV ratio often correlates with higher interest rates. This is because a high LTV ratio means more risk for the lender.

For applicants with a bad credit history, lenders usually prefer a lower LTV ratio to balance the risk.

Options for those with low or no deposit

Obtaining a mortgage with bad credit and a low or no deposit can be challenging but not impossible.

Some government schemes, like the Help to Buy, can aid first time buyers or homeowners looking to move with only a 5% deposit.

Certain lenders might offer 100% LTV mortgages, usually requiring a guarantor. (Also read about a guarantor mortgage.)

These options, however, come with their own set of terms and can carry higher interest rates or additional requirements.

Consult a mortgage advisor or a bad credit mortgage broker to explore your options thoroughly.

Special considerations for different borrowers

First-time buyers with bad credit

First-time buyers with bad credit face challenges when seeking a mortgage. High street lenders might appear less accessible, but options still exist.

Specialist lenders and bad credit mortgage brokers provide tailored services for this group. As a first-time buyer, your credit file might lack substantial history, influencing your mortgage prospects. To counteract this, showcasing a stable income and saving for a larger deposit can be good for you.

Moreover, government schemes like Shared Ownership might offer additional pathways towards homeownership. Help to Buy has officially ended. We have an article detailing what has replaced Help to Buy.

Challenges for self-employed individuals

Self-employed individuals with bad credit must prepare meticulously when applying for a mortgage. Lenders often view self-employment as a higher risk, particularly with an adverse credit history.

Demonstrating consistent income through accounts, tax returns, and a larger deposit becomes necessary.

Engaging a mortgage adviser skilled in self-employed applications can provide invaluable guidance.

Self-employed applicants should prepare for possibly higher interest rates and might need to look beyond high street lenders to specialist providers who understand their unique circumstances.

Mortgage post age 50

Securing a mortgage with bad credit after you have crossed the age of 50, requires considering additional factors.

Lenders assess age, retirement income, and loan duration more stringently. You must demonstrate how mortgage payments will be managed post-retirement. Pensions, savings, and other income sources become significant here.

A shorter mortgage term might be necessary, with increased monthly payments.

Seeking advice from a mortgage broker experienced in later-life lending can open doors to lenders more receptive to your circumstances. Planning and clarity around your retirement finances are fundamental in these discussions.

Alternative paths and solutions

Considering a joint mortgage to mitigate bad credit

Joint mortgages often emerge as a practical solution for those grappling with a low credit score. When you apply for a mortgage with a partner, family member, or even a friend, lenders consider both applicants' credit histories.

A joint applicant with a stronger credit record can bolster the overall creditworthiness of the application. This collaboration can lead to more favourable mortgage terms compared to applying alone with adverse credit.

Remember that joint mortgages tie you together financially, meaning both parties are responsible for mortgage repayments and liable if payments are missed.

Using guarantors or co-signers

Appointing a guarantor or co-signer offers another avenue. Here, a third party, usually a close family member with a stable income and good credit history, agrees to back your mortgage.

Should you fail to make payments, the guarantor is responsible for covering them. This security can make lenders more inclined to offer a mortgage, even with a troubled credit history.

Nevertheless, guarantors need to comprehend the extent of their commitment. They should be financially capable and willing to assume this risk. It’s a hefty responsibility, and both parties must engage in open, honest communication about the implications.

Rent-to-own schemes and their viability

Rent-to-own or rent to buy schemes present an alternative for aspiring homeowners with bad credit. In these arrangements, you rent a property for a set period, usually with the option to buy it later.

Part of your rent payments may go towards a future deposit. This scheme can be especially appealing if you're struggling to save for a deposit or improve your credit rating immediately.

Look closely at the terms of these agreements. Understand the rent charges, the portion contributing towards the purchase, the property price agreement, and your rights and responsibilities during the rental period. Rent-to-buy can be a stepping stone for homeownership.

Handling mortgage rejections and next steps

Receiving a rejection for a mortgage application can feel disheartening. It's a moment to pause and review your financial standing. Examine the reasons for the denial.

Mortgage lenders often decline applications due to issues with credit history, insufficient income, unstable employment, or high debt levels.

Take a thorough look at your credit file. Main credit reference agencies, such as Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion, provide detailed reports that mortgage lenders use in their decision-making process.

Errors in your credit report can lead to unjustified rejections. If you find inaccuracies, contact the agency immediately to correct them.

Reassessing your situation and exploring other options

After a mortgage rejection, reassess your financial situation. Consider your budget, savings, and spending habits. Sometimes, simple adjustments can significantly improve your mortgage prospects. For instance, reducing non-essential expenses can help you save more for a larger deposit, making you more attractive to lenders.

Exploring alternative mortgage options is also wise. High street lenders might have stringent criteria for lending. However, specialist lenders or bad credit mortgage brokers often have more flexibility. They are accustomed to dealing with cases of adverse credit and might be more sympathetic to your situation.

Think about other paths to homeownership. Joint mortgages or guarantor mortgages can offer routes to a successful application, especially when your credit score is the only stumbling block.

When to reapply for a mortgage after rejection

Rushing into another application without addressing the reasons for your first rejection could lead to another denial, harming your credit score further.

A practical approach is to wait until you've made tangible improvements to your financial situation. This improvement could be repairing your credit file, building a larger deposit, or stabilising your employment. Financial advisers or bad credit mortgage brokers can provide personalised advice on the ideal time to reapply.

Monitor your credit score regularly. Improvements in your score are a positive indicator that lenders might view your new application more favourably.

Remember, each application leaves a footprint on your credit file, so choose your timing and lender wisely.


Can I get a mortgage with a low credit score?

You might have heard that getting a mortgage with bad credit is next to impossible. Let's clarify these misconceptions. A bad credit mortgage isn't a mythical beast; it's a viable option for many. Lenders have different criteria, and some specialise in offering mortgages to those with adverse credit histories.

You can still apply for a mortgage even with a low credit score. Certain mortgage lenders will accommodate you. Your options might be more limited and the terms less favourable than for those with stronger credit scores. Explore specialist bad credit mortgage brokers who can offer tailored advice.

How do late payments affect my ability to get a mortgage?

Late payments can impact your mortgage application, but their effect isn't always terminal. Lenders will consider the frequency, recency, and severity of these late payments. A few missed credit card payments years ago might be overlooked, especially if you've since maintained a good payment history.

Will a debt management plan (DMP) stop me from getting a mortgage?

Having a DMP doesn't automatically disqualify you from getting a mortgage. The key is transparency. Disclose your DMP to potential lenders and show how you're managing it. Some lenders might view your active management of debt as a positive sign of financial responsibility.

Can I apply for a first-time buyer mortgage with bad credit?

Yes, first-time buyers with bad credit histories can still apply for mortgages. While your credit issues might limit some options, there are lenders and products geared specifically towards helping first-time buyers enter the mortgage market, even with adverse credit.

What role does a bad credit mortgage broker play?

A bad credit mortgage broker specialises in helping individuals with adverse credit histories find suitable mortgages. They have in-depth knowledge of the market and can identify lenders likely to accept your application. Their expertise often proves invaluable in navigating the complex mortgage landscape with a poor credit score.

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