How to get a joint mortgage with a non-UK national partner or spouse
Couples where one partner is not a UK national are often keen to settle in and establish a home in Britain. But getting property finance can be a challenge. We have a strong track record in matching international clients with the lending they need.
What are the issues for mixed-nationality couples applying for UK mortgages?
1 Residential history in the UK
To the surprise of some of our clients, the nationality of the non-British partner is almost immaterial. The critical factor is how long you’ve been living in the UK – which of course relates to your visa status.
Spouses and civil partners of UK citizens are eligible to apply for British citizenship by "naturalisation" after they have lived in the UK for three years:
- with settled status under EU regulation
- with indefinite leave to remain"
- or "permanent residence status"
Most mainstream lenders will stipulate a minimum of at least three years’ established residence in the UK.
While you're here, check out our complete guide on UK mortgages for expats.
Many would-be borrowers are still at the early stages of establishing their visa status, but are keen to regain some of stability they’ve left behind, and get settled in a home.
A number of the clients who come to us have been turned down at the outset for their lack of residency qualification. But we can find lenders if other circumstances are favourable.
UK mortgage finance for mixed-nationality couples
- For clients where one partner does not have permanent "right to reside", we can source property finance up to 70% of the property value, on a Capital & Interest repayment basis only.
- For clients on a Tier 1 General Visa/Highly Skilled Migrant Visa, we can access lending up to 90% of the property value.
- For joint mortgage applications where only one party has permanent right to reside the application should be treated as if both applicants have permanent right to reside, and we will be looking for finance up to 95% of the property value.
2 A ceiling on lending
Many of the "high street" UK lenders look to limit their exposure to riskier mixed-nationality borrowing partnerships by putting a cap on ending at 75% LTV.
Which can be problematic if you’re looking to buy in higher-priced London or the south-east, or other major cities around the country.
Cases are often sent for review by the lender’s panel if the non-UK spouse is the main or only earner.
Again, we may still be able to source the finance you need, but clients often need guidance through the tighter credit policies for lending over 75%.
3 Your credit history
Sadly, UK lenders are concerned with UK history.
You may have a settled residency and substantial financial resources in Sydney, Singapore or Seattle, but that’s of little reassurance to a mortgage provider committing to finance on a UK property, with a co-owner who looks more able to "disappear" overseas in adverse financial circumstances than a settled UK national.
Your residential status is a key factor on your UK credit history, relating as it does to your employability, your ability to open a bank account, sign a tenancy agreement and take out credit.
We have access to the same credit analysis software that many of our lenders use. And we often spend a considerable amount of time advising clients on the proactive steps they can take to improve their credit ratings.
Is this the solution: not including non-resident spouses on mortgage applications?
A few clients come to us assuming that the way round any substantial difficulties is for the application to be submitted in just the British partner’s name.
In fact, lenders are less comfortable if both partners are not included on the mortgage documents, even if the UK citizen is the main earner.
The reasoning is that their lending is more secure if both the main tenants of the property bear joint responsibility for the mortgage finance. In the unfortunate circumstance of a default, a forced sale to recoup their lending will be very much more complicated if a spouse who is not party to the finance has right of residency in the home.
We are able to source finance for single-name mortgages, but the greater degree of risk is reflected in the lower LTV lenders are willing to commit to: usually a ceiling of 70% (compared with the up to 95% we can otherwise source.
Call Clifton Private Finance: we have the specialist experience you need
Our international client brokers have seen – and solved – most of the trickiest mortgage situations. Give us a ring at any time that suits you, and we’ll set up an appointment with one of our experienced advisors:
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