Getting a mortgage as a single parent  

Whether you’re looking to get onto the property ladder or remove someone from a joint mortgage, the process of getting a mortgage as a single parent can be overwhelming

Life can be tough enough as it is as a single parent, and securing a mortgage with one income and the financial outlay of children can be challenging, but the good news is it’s certainly possible, and there are many potential avenues to help.

This comprehensive guide will let you know also there is to know about securing a mortgage as a single parent. 

Can I get a mortgage as a single parent?

Yes, it’s certainly possible to secure a mortgage as a single parent. If you have an income, it’s usually possible for most people to get a mortgage. The biggest challenge is being able to secure a mortgage that is suitable for your needs, and for parents, it can be even more challenging to find a suitable option. 

The costs of childcare will need to be considered. Other sources of income, such as maintenance and certain forms of benefits, can also be used to boost your overall income and improve your chances of obtaining a mortgage.

How much can I borrow as a single parent?

Each mortgage lender will conduct its own affordability assessment. Some lenders may be more favourable to your situation than others. 

For example, some lenders may consider all child maintenance or child benefits, while others may not accept them or may only use a percentage of their value, which can make a significant difference. 

The amount you can borrow will depend on factors such as your income and expenses, credit score, and the amount of your deposit.

As a general rule of thumb, lenders may consider offering mortgages that are around 4.5 times your income, although this can vary significantly depending on your level of outgoings and overall financial profile.

What affects the amount you can borrow 

Several factors can impact how much you can borrow when seeking a mortgage as a single parent. One of the most significant considerations is childcare costs. 

Lenders will often take into account the amount you pay for childcare each month, as this can have a significant impact on your overall financial situation.

In addition to childcare costs, lenders will also consider your earned income. This includes any income you receive from your employment or self-employment. Other sources of income, such as maintenance payments from a former partner or government benefits like child tax credits or child benefit, may also be taken into account.

Credit score: Your credit score can also have an impact on the amount you can borrow. Lenders are more likely to offer you more money or provide you with more options if you have a good credit report. They will also look more favourably upon your application if you don’t have a history of defaults or County Court Judgments (CCJs).

Check your credit report with Check my File  

Deposit: The amount of your deposit can also play a role in the mortgage process. A higher deposit level can reduce the lender’s risk, which improves your chances of securing the best deal available.

How to get a bigger mortgage  

What counts towards my income?

When applying for a single parent mortgage, several types of income can be considered by lenders. These include:

  • Earned income from your employment or self-employment: This will be your primary source of income and is likely to be the main factor that lenders will consider.
  • Child maintenance payments from a former partner: If you receive regular maintenance payments, this can be used to supplement your earned income when assessing affordability.
  • Government benefits such as child tax credits, child benefit, or housing benefits. Some lenders will consider a percentage of these benefits as income, but it’s worth noting that not all lenders will take them into account.

How long do I need to have been in receipt of child maintenance?

Most lenders will usually require child maintenance payments to have been received for at least three months and evidenced on bank statements. It’s important to note that payments made through informal arrangements or in cash may not be accepted by lenders, so it’s best to ensure that all maintenance payments are made through official channels and recorded accordingly.

Can I get a mortgage as a self-employed single parent?

Getting a mortgage as a self-employed  single parent is still possible. Most mortgage lenders will take an average of your last two years’ earnings to determine your income, although some may use a three-year average or consider your most recent year’s income. 

Lenders may take into account other forms of income, such as maintenance or government benefits, in addition to your self-employed income. It’s important to note that each lender will have their own criteria for assessing affordability, so it’s always best to shop around and compare options to find the best deal for your individual circumstances.

What happens to my joint mortgage if I’m newly single?

There are several options available when you’re separating and have a joint mortgage .

  • Sell the house: This is the most straightforward option, where you sell the property and both parties receive their share of the proceeds. You can then both move on and look for alternative housing solutions.
  • Buy out your ex-partner: If you want to remain in the property, you may be able to buy out your ex-partner’s share of the mortgage. This would mean you would take over the full responsibility of paying the mortgage and any associated costs, but you would also be able to stay in the property. However, you would need to ensure that you can afford to take on the mortgage payments by yourself and that you can provide evidence of your ability to make the repayments to the lender.
  • Move and potentially buy elsewhere: If you do not want to stay in the property, you could consider selling and buying elsewhere. Alternatively, you could move out and allow your ex-partner to remain in the property and take over the mortgage payments. However, this would require agreement between both parties and may involve a transfer of ownership, which can be a complex legal process.

    Divorce & Separation Mortgages 

It’s also important to remember that even if one party moves out and another remains in the property, both parties are still jointly liable for the mortgage until it is fully paid off or one party is released from the mortgage by the lender. 

This means that if the person remaining in the property fails to make the mortgage payments, it could negatively affect both parties’ credit scores and could potentially result in repossession of the property.

What if I can’t borrow enough on my own? 

As a single parent, if you can’t afford a mortgage on your own, there are several options you can consider:

  • Shared ownership: This is a scheme where you buy a share of a property (usually between 25% and 75%) and pay rent on the remaining share. You can increase your share over time until you own the property outright.

    Shared Ownership

  • Guarantor: If you have a family member or friend who is willing to act as a guarantor, this can help you secure a mortgage. The guarantor will be responsible for making the mortgage payments if you are unable to.
  • Joint borrower sole proprietor: This is where you buy a property with someone else, but only one person is responsible for the mortgage payments. This can be a good option if you want to buy a property with a friend or family member, but you are the only one with a steady income.

    Joint borrower sole proprietor Mortgages

  • Buy with friends or family: This is where you pool your resources with friends or family members to buy a property together. You will all be jointly responsible for the mortgage payments and other costs.
  • Wait and save up: If you can’t afford a mortgage right now, you could wait and save up for a larger deposit. This will increase your chances of being approved for a mortgage and may help you get a better deal.
  • Right to buy: If you are a council tenant, you may be eligible for the Right to Buy scheme, which allows you to buy your home at a discount. This can be a good option if you are struggling to save up for a deposit, as the discount can be used towards the deposit.

    Right to buy Mortgages

Is it possible to get help with my mortgage repayments as a single parent?

Yes, there are several options available to single parents who may need help with mortgage payments. These include:

Income Support:  Single parents who are on a low income and who have less than £16,000 in savings may be eligible for Income Support. This benefit is means-tested, and the amount you receive will depend on your income and circumstances.

Jobseeker’s Allowance: Single parents who are actively seeking work may be eligible for Jobseeker’s Allowance. This benefit is also means-tested and will depend on your income and circumstances.

Employment and Support Allowance: If you are unable to work due to illness or disability, you may be eligible for Employment and Support Allowance. This benefit is also means-tested and will depend on your income and circumstances.

Universal Credit – Universal Credit is a means-tested benefit that has replaced a number of other benefits, including Income Support and Jobseeker’s Allowance. If you are on a low income, you may be eligible for Universal Credit to help with your mortgage payments.

Pension Credit:  If you are of pension age, you may be eligible for Pension Credit. This benefit is means-tested and will depend on your income and circumstances.

Getting a Mortgage on Benefits  

Can I get a Mortgage as a single parent with bad credit?

It may be more challenging to get a mortgage as a single parent with bad credit, but it is not impossible. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Credit Score: Your credit score is one of the factors that lenders consider when deciding whether to approve your mortgage application. If you have bad credit, you may be seen as a higher risk borrower, and lenders may be less willing to lend to you.

    Download a copy of your credit report

  • Adverse Specialist lenders are lenders who cater to borrowers with bad credit, and they may be willing to offer you a mortgage, although the interest rate may be higher than for someone with good credit.

    Adverse credit mortgages

  • Deposit : You may also be able to improve your chances of getting a mortgage by saving up for a larger deposit, which can reduce the lender’s risk and make you a more attractive borrower.
  • Record keeping: It’s also important to make sure your credit report is accurate and up-to-date, and to take steps to improve your credit score where possible, such as paying down debt and making sure you make all your payments on time.

Consider seeking the help of a mortgage broker who can help you find a lender who is willing to lend to someone with your credit profile.

How can Strive Mortgages help?

Applying for a mortgage can be a daunting experience, especially for a single parent or someone going through a separation. 

Having an experienced and trustworthy professional to guide you through the process can be invaluable and provide peace of mind, if you’re thinking of buying or re-mortgaging, one of our specialist advisors will be on hand to help.