Getting a mortgage if you’re ill or disabled

Being ill or disabled shouldn’t stop you from getting a mortgage, even if you rely on benefits for all or part of your income. Find out what you need to do when applying.

If you can afford a mortgage, banks and other lenders aren’t allowed to reject your application just because you’re ill or disabled.

They must assess your application on the basis of affordability and your financial situation, just as they would with any other application.

Lenders can’t insist that you pay a larger deposit or make larger monthly repayments than non-disabled customers.

Some illnesses might result in applications taking longer, higher rates or even being turned down. If this applies to you getting help with the application is even more important.  

Who does disability legislation apply to?

Anti-discrimination rules might apply to you even if you don’t think of yourself as a disabled person.

Under the Equality Act, a disability is a physical or a mental condition that has a substantial and long-term impact on your ability to do normal day-to-day activities.

So this applies if you have a physical condition, such as cancer, HIV or MS, and/or a mental health condition such as depression.

If your illness is not covered by the Equality Act

If you want to get onto the property ladder but are worried a long-term illness might affect your chances, you need to get expert advice as soon as possible. 

A mortgage advisor will be able to assess your finances and explore the financial products that might be available to you. If they find a loan you may qualify for, they can help you with the application. 

In some cases, your advisor may suggest ways in which you can improve your financial situation in order to make yourself more appealing to lenders.

Getting a mortgage if you’re on sickness or disability benefits

As with any mortgage, lenders are mainly interested in your ability to repay . Lenders will want to see proof of your income and to understand your expenditure, and if you have any debts. Lenders will also want proof that you will be able to keep up repayments if interest rates rise. 

Having an income that’s either partly or mainly made up of benefits shouldn’t stop you from getting a mortgage, but it can make it more difficult.

Some lenders are more likely than others to accept benefits as income when doing their affordability checks. This includes disability-related payments.

It can also be tricky if you’re only receiving disability-related benefits for the short term – if you expect to be able to return to work at some point in future.

Lenders are unlikely to approve a mortgage application based on short-term benefits, so their approach will depend on your exact situation and their own requirements.

A specialist mortgage broker can help you find a lender that’s willing to lend to someone in your situation. (See ‘Get specialist advice’ below.)

Help with mortgage interest payments

If you’ve been receiving an eligible benefit – including income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support or Universal Credit – for 39 weeks (approximatly nine months) or more you might be able to claim help with your mortgage interest payments.

This is called Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI). SMI is a loan that you’ll have to repay with interest when you sell or transfer ownership of your home.

Consider a shared ownership scheme

HOLD – Home ownership for people with a long-term disability

HOLD is a shared ownership scheme for people with long-term disabilities and is part of the government’s affordable housing programme.

You could buy a share of your home (between 25% and 75% of the home’s value) and pay rent on the remaining share.

You can only apply for the HOLD scheme if the homes available in the other shared ownership schemes don’t meet your needs, e.g. you need a ground-floor home.

HOLD is available only in England.

Find out more about HOLD on the Own Your Home Government website.

MySafeHome

Specialist provider, MySafeHome, can help you buy a home if you’re disabled. It works with selected lenders on shared ownership schemes.

Get specialist advice

Make sure you speak to several different mortgage lenders and advisers, as this will help you find the mortgage that meets your needs.

Contact your local Disabled People’s Organisation

Disabled People’s Organisations (DPOs) operate across England and Wales. They can offer free, independent and confidential information and advice, and are run by and for disabled people.

To find out more:

in England, contact Scope

in Scotland, contact Citizens Adviceor Housing Options Scotland

in Northern Ireland, contact Disability Action

in Wales, contact Citizens Advice Cymru or Disability Wales

Speak to an independent mortgage adviser

Independent mortgage advisers offer impartial advice and can also shop around for you.

Specialist advice can be especially useful when it comes to particular needs. A specialist independent mortgage adviser will be able to access products from across the whole market.

This means they’ll understand which lenders are most likely to be able to help you and what they’ll be looking for in terms of things like paperwork and qualifying criteria. 

Some charge a fee for their work.

Speak to your bank or building society

Contact your bank or building society and ask to speak to their mortgage adviser.

But bear in mind that banks and building societies will only tell you about their own mortgages, so you might be missing out on a better deal elsewhere. .

So it’s important to take the information they give you and compare it with the competition before choosing.

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Whatever your circumstances or plans, move forward with MoneyHelper.

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Looking for us? Now, we’re MoneyHelper

MoneyHelper is the new, easy way to get clear, free,
impartial help for all your money and pension choices.
Whatever your circumstances or plans, move forward with MoneyHelper.

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