Can you Get a Mortgage with a Criminal Record?


It can be harder to obtain a mortgage if you have a criminal record as lenders are much more likely to view you as high risk applicants. However, this does not mean you can’t get a mortgage at all.

In this guide, we’ll explore what options are available to you if you have a criminal record, as well as ways you can improve your chances of obtaining a mortgage.

Do mortgage lenders check criminal history?

Yes, mortgage lenders will check if you have any criminal history. This is because they will want to be sure that you can meet their monthly repayments over the whole term of the mortgage. Someone who has previous convictions will be viewed as a riskier applicant than someone with none.

For example, if your conviction was for a serious monetary offence, such as theft or fraud, then the lender may decide that you are an unreliable borrower.

What will a mortgage lender ask about a criminal record?

The majority of lenders will ask general questions about criminal records, however, they can sometimes vary on wording. A common question you will find includes: “Have you ever been convicted, or have any prosecutions pending for criminal offences (other than motoring offences?)”. 

They may also ask questions along the lines of:

“Have you or members of your family, or anyone normally residing with you, been subject to any declaration of bankruptcy, been convicted of, received a police caution for, or charged with (but not yet tried for) an offence (other than driving offences)? (Please note, convictions spent under the terms of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 do not need to be disclosed). If Yes: please give details”

Some lenders may also ask you to provide details of addresses over the past 6 years. If you have spent any significant time in prison, this could flag up gaps in your residence history and may mean that you will need to disclose your criminal record, even if you aren’t specifically asked about them.

How does a criminal record affect buying a house?

If you have been convicted of a crime or served time in prison, it will be more challenging to be approved for a mortgage. 

Some lenders will consider your application depending on the type of conviction. As we’ve mentioned, it would be highly unlikely for you to get a mortgage if you have a criminal conviction in relation to financial fraud. 

Getting a mortgage with a criminal record will ultimately vary in outcome based on the type of offence you have committed. 

Does having a criminal record affect credit score?

Criminal records are not included in credit reports, so they do not directly impact your credit score

However, there may be an indirect impact though if you have spent a period of time in prison and were unable to vote or hold any credit to your name. 

What types of mortgages can you get with a criminal record?

The type of mortgage available to you won’t necessarily be affected if you have a criminal record. It ultimately comes down to the lender’s criteria and the nature of your criminal conviction. 

This means that you can still apply for a variety of different mortgages, such as buy-to-let or remortgages. 

What types of mortgages can you not get with a criminal record?

As we’ve mentioned, you will still have the option for all mortgage types, depending on your circumstances. However, different lenders may take different approaches towards your application depending on the type and severity of your criminal record. 

How to get a mortgage with a criminal record

If you’re applying for a mortgage with a criminal record, you should follow the steps below:

  1. Check whether your conviction is spent. You are much more likely to be considered for a mortgage if this is the case. 
  2. Prepare and compile the paperwork you’ll need. In addition to the standard documents required, such as proof of income and bank statements, you will need to include any evidence relating to your criminal convictions. 
  3. Find a lender who will cater to borrowers with criminal convictions. Your broker will be able to identify lenders who will consider applicants in these circumstances. 

Does the type of criminal conviction affect a mortgage application?

Your lender will likely investigate your criminal history when you apply for a mortgage application. Again, as we’ve mentioned, if your crimes are tied to fraud, money laundering or any other financial crimes in general, then lenders will likely be extremely hesitant to offer you a mortgage.

However, if your offences are in relation to traffic violations, they are unlikely to have a significant impact on your mortgage approval. 

Do mortgage lenders look at spent and unspent convictions differently?

Whether a mortgage lender looks at spent and unspent convictions is really each up to their own discretion. While some lenders will ask for details of any criminal convictions, either spent or unspent, other lenders won’t. 

Should you disclose an unspent conviction when applying for a mortgage?

Yes, you do need to disclose any unspent convictions to a mortgage lender if you are asked to do so. Knowing what you legally need to disclose in regards to your unspent conviction will ensure that you get the best mortgage for your needs and that you don’t run the risk of having it invalidated. 

Under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act, you do not have to disclose spent convictions. This means if your criminal record is entirely spent, you would be entitled to answer “no” to the related questions. 

How a Mortgage Broker helps applicants with criminal records

If you have a criminal record, it’s best to get the help of an expert mortgage broker, such as our team at Barlow Irvin. Many applicants will apply and even get to an agreement in principle before being declined later on in the application process. This can easily be avoided through the help of our team. 

Our advisors will take the time to understand your individual situation, whilst also taking the best course of action in planning your application. We’re also available to compare deals, saving you money in the process.

About the author 

Gary Oxborough

Gary is the Founder and Director of Barlow Irvin Financial Services Ltd. He has been in the Finance industry for over 20 years and has specialised in Mortgages since 2003. As well as running the firm, he is still actively involved in advising clients.

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