Buying a house with someone else can be a scary step. Tying yourself financially to someone else for a mortgage is a complex process and it can be much harder if one applicant has bad credit. We take a look at what can make the process less intimidating and how to mitigate the problems of poor credit ratings.

Can You Get a Mortgage When One Applicant Has Bad Credit?

Yes, it's still possible to get a mortgage when one of the applicants has a poor credit history. However, it can be more challenging to get a suitable mortgage, or any mortgage at all. Some mortgage lenders will reject all applications from people with poor credit. Others will accept your application but will require higher interest rates and might demand a higher deposit amount. One of the best ways to get a joint mortgage with bad credit is to use a mortgage broker with experience finding lenders who specialise in adverse credit borrowers.

Why Apply for a Joint Mortgage?

One of the main reasons for applying for a joint mortgage is to increase your affordability. All applicants' income will be considered as part of the affordability calculations. This means you'll be able to borrow more and be able to buy a more expensive house than you could manage by yourself. This can be very beneficial if you’re trying to get a larger home or a home in an area with a higher average cost.

You might also have to apply for a joint mortgage if you're married or have other significant financial ties to another person. A lot of lenders won't let you apply for a single mortgage if you're married or will be living with a partner.

Why Is It a Problem if One Applicant Has Poor Credit?

Your credit history indicates how likely you’re to make your monthly mortgage payments based on your history of other repayments. This will be considered for all the applicants on a mortgage application.

Mortgage lenders look at any problems from both credit reports. Usually, if even one applicant has a good credit rating, another applicant with a poor credit history will bring down the record of the good applicant. In some cases, if someone has a particularly good credit score, they may be able to counteract this. In most cases, however, one applicant having poor credit will impact the mortgage application.

Finding Out Your Credit Score

If you're worried that one applicant's credit could affect your ability to get a mortgage, a good first step is to find out your credit score. You can do this easily by using any of the large credit reference agencies that offer credit reports online, for example, Experian or Equifax. This will give you an overview of your credit report, as well as some of the more basic details of your credit history. Most also offer some advice on how to improve your credit score. Be aware that this is not all the information that mortgage lenders will have access to when they perform their own type of credit check.

How Do Mortgage Lenders Check My Credit?

Mortgage lenders will have their own ways of doing credit checks, which includes information from credit agencies as well as other financial information. Most use their own internal calculations when assessing the information to attribute their own score to you. This will then inform their decision on whether to lend to you and what deals they can offer.

Will a Credit Check Affect My Credit Score?

Soft credit checks will not affect your credit score. Only you will be able to see that soft credit checks have been done. A lot of lenders perform soft credit checks at the decision in principle stage of the process.

Hard credit checks, on the other hand, stay on your credit record. All lenders will perform a hard credit check at some point, but many of them do this at the full application stage of the process. Having too many hard credit checks in a short time can negatively your credit score.

It’s best to use a mortgage broker who can direct you towards suitable lenders with criteria that aligns with your situation to avoid unnecessary hard credit checks.

How Can Bad Credit Affect a Mortgage Application?

Different types of bad credit will affect your mortgage application in different ways, with some being more severe than others. The biggest problem with having poor credit is the higher chance of your application being rejected. As well as making it more difficult to get approved for a mortgage, having poor credit could have extra effects on your application and lending criteria.

Lending Criteria

Mortgage lenders might have different criteria for a joint bad credit mortgage application. This could include requiring longer financial records or more information on how you got a bad credit history. You’ll also be unlikely to be able to borrow as much as someone with a better credit rating. This is because mortgage lenders want to make sure that you’re able to pay back your monthly payments. This could prevent you from getting the kind of house you want unless you find a specialist lender.


Most mortgage lenders require a higher deposit amount from applicants with poor credit histories. This could be anywhere from a minimum of 10% to 25%, depending on the lender. Finding a specialist lender might help you get an LTV (loan-to-value) percentage that is closer to a standard mortgage.

Interest Rate

People who are considered at higher risk will often be given a higher interest rate on their mortgage. This includes people with poor credit history, meaning that your interest rate might be higher than expected.

Specialist Mortgages

For higher risk mortgage types, fewer lenders are willing to offer mortgages to people with poor credit. This could include properties where the value could decrease, such as non-standard construction mortgages or new build properties, as well as unusual mortgage situations like shared ownership.

What Types of Bad Credit Affect a Mortgage Application?

Getting a joint mortgage with bad credit history can be challenging, but different mortgage lenders will look at various types of credit issues differently. Some of the most common issues include:

  • No Credit History - having a completely blank credit history won't show any negatives as such, but it also won't show any proof that you can be trusted to make your monthly payments. Credit history is important to show that you're not a risk, reassuring the lender that you're a safe prospect to lend money to
  • CCJs (County Court Judgements) - CCJs can affect your credit history for a long time. Lenders will often look at how long ago the CCJ occurred, as well as the value of the CCJ. Most lenders will want to see that it was satisfied and that there have been no further credit issues since, but some lenders will offer a joint mortgage with CCJ records even if the CCJ was more recent or has not been satisfied. You might need a specialist lender for this
  • IVA (Individual Voluntary Arrangement) - IVAs are also an issue on mortgage applications, and the IVA will almost certainly need to have been paid off. It also gets easier to get a mortgage the longer ago the IVA was. Some mortgage lenders will automatically refuse to offer a joint mortgage with IVA records on either applicant, but specialist lenders can still be found for these cases. Some lenders will even accept mortgage applications if the IVA is still current, as long as it will be paid off before the mortgage has finished
  • Defaults - getting a joint mortgage with defaults on your credit history can be difficult, but this depends on the type of default and how long ago it was. Some defaults are sufficiently minor that most lenders will still accept mortgage applications, but some can limit your options when looking for a mortgage
  • Late or Missed Payments – the more historic a missed payment the less impact it should have on the deals available to you. A single missed payment over a year ago will have a much smaller effect than multiple missed payments, or more recent issues. Some lenders may want to discuss the missed payments before processing your application, especially if there’s more than one
  • Bankruptcy - bankruptcy can be a major issue and many lenders won't accept applications until a significant time has passed since the bankruptcy has been discharged. This can also result in your getting harder mortgage terms, such as higher interest rates or fees and a higher deposit minimum requirement
  • Repossession - a house repossession is considered a major issue for lenders as they'll want to avoid this happening again. However, if the repossession was far enough in the past you may still get lenders who are willing to offer a mortgage
House deposit

Getting a Mortgage with Poor Credit History

If one of the applicants for a joint mortgage has a poor credit history, you may need to find a specialist lender. These will have special terms that mean they’ll accept borrowers with adverse credit. A specialist lender will usually mean that your terms are less favourable compared to normal mortgages, and your options might be limited.

Applying with Only One Borrower

One way around the issue of an applicant having bad credit is to apply with only one borrower, picking the person with the better credit rating. This can ensure that you get an approved mortgage application, or it can potentially give you access to better terms, such as lower interest rates, better affordability calculations, and a lower deposit requirement.

Bear in mind that while you might get better terms without the bad credit applicant, your affordability will be based entirely on the income of the only applicant. This can make it hard to prove that you can afford the mortgage for the house that you want. However, it can be preferable to make sure that you can get approved for a mortgage, even if the value is lower.

It’s also worth being aware that many lenders do not allow sole applications for married couples living together in the property.

Having only one borrower with good credit also means that you’ll be able to use a normal lender. This can be beneficial as specialist mortgage lenders often have higher rates and deposit requirements in general. It also means that you're more likely to access a different type of specialist mortgage. Most lenders won’t want to risk a combination of special issues such as bad credit alongside shared ownership or non-standard construction mortgage.

Improving Credit Ratings

If you cannot get a single mortgage or a joint mortgage with bad credit, consider improving your credit history and credit rating before applying.

If the main issues are debts or defaults that have not yet been paid back, then these should be satisfied before applying for a mortgage.

If the issue is primarily that you have CCJs, IVAs, or a bankruptcy that is too recent, wait until lenders are content that the issue is far enough in the past. This can help open up your mortgage options significantly, though it does of course mean putting house purchase plans on hold.

Finding a Specialist Broker

For joint mortgages with bad credit, the best way is to find a specialist broker, like John Charcol. Many of our advisers are specialised in offering mortgages to clients who have poor credit histories. There are other advantages to having a broker as well, as they'll know which lenders are more likely to approve your application and help you get preferably terms on your mortgage loan.

A Joint Mortgage with One Bad Credit Applicant - Roundup

When you apply for a joint mortgage, the credit history of all the applicants will be considered before your application is accepted. Poor credit can make it harder to get a positive outcome on your application. Some of the most major issues that impact your credit score are incidents like bankruptcy or a previous house repossession. Some poor credit problems, like a default or CCJ, can also make it harder to get a mortgage and could mean you get less preferable terms such as higher interest rates and deposit requirements.

If only one applicant has bad credit, consider applying with only one applicant, who has a good credit rating. This option can have a negative impact on your affordability and might mean you get offered a smaller mortgage loan but can avoid the issues caused by poor credit.

Getting an experienced mortgage broker helps you navigate the difficulties of getting a mortgage where one applicant has poor credit. At John Charcol, we have experience working with bad credit applicants and finding great mortgage options. Get in touch today to see how we can help you with getting a mortgage despite bad credit issues.

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