Can’t Get a Mortgage

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Home Mortgage Application Can’t Get A Mortgage
Pete Mugleston

Author: Pete Mugleston

Mortgage Advisor, MD

Updated: February 8, 2024

In this article, we’ll outline the main reasons someone might think they can’t get a mortgage and how, with the help of an experienced mortgage broker, it is still possible to secure the borrowing you need to buy the property you want. 

What to do if you can’t get a mortgage

In our experience, there aren’t many people who truly can’t get a mortgage. However, there are lots of people who either:

  • Believe they aren’t eligible for a mortgage, (perhaps they’ve had a bad credit issue in the past or have only recently become self-employed and don’t yet have a strong enough trading history)
  • Have been declined for a mortgage (or several mortgages) in the past and now think it’s impossible

We’ve helped countless people who fit into these categories to get mortgage approval and we can help you too, if you follow these steps:

Step One: Identify the reason

This could be either an aspect of your financial situation or something to do with the property itself. It’s important to pinpoint the exact reason, rather than something general like “house prices are too expensive” or “mortgage rates are too high”. Some of the most common reasons are covered in this article below.

Step Two: Speak to an expert

Seek further information and independent, personalised advice from an expert. The more they’ve worked with people in your situation (for example, applicants with bad credit or self-employed applicants) the more insight and clarity they can provide. If you’d like us to match you with a specialist we work with, get in touch.

Step Three: Find the solution

Whatever the reason you’re struggling to get a mortgage, an expert can almost always find a way to address it. Some ways take time, like saving a larger deposit, but some are almost instant, like applying to a lender with different eligibility requirements.

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Common reasons people think they can’t get a mortgage

Most of the people we speak to think that they can’t get a mortgage for one of the following reasons:

You have bad credit

Many people assume they won’t be able to get a mortgage with bad credit. You may already have been declined by a mainstream lender for this reason. However, you can still apply to a specialist bad credit mortgage provider who will look at your situation differently.

Their policies are far more flexible, so they can take into account various additional factors, such as how serious your credit issues were, how much time has passed since, and whether there were mitigating circumstances.

You’re self-employed

There’s a common misconception that you can’t get a mortgage if you’re self-employed. The truth is that most lenders have no issue with self-employed applicants, but it can be a minefield as no two lenders will assess your affordability in the same way.

While, typically, employed applicants have the same income every month (and can therefore prove their income with three recent payslips), self-employed applicants often have a much more variable income pattern. Looking at a three-month period could be very misleading.

So, lenders will often ask to see two years of accounts or tax calculations. If you haven’t been in business that long, or you haven’t been diligent about keeping records, you might not have two years of accounts available.

Luckily, some lenders will consider your application based on just one year’s accounts, and sometimes even less.

You’re an older borrower

You might assume that there’s a universal maximum age for mortgage borrowers (many people think it’s 75). The truth is that each lender is free to set their own maximum age and they do so in different ways:

  • Some have a maximum age at the time of your application, ranging between 55 and 89
  • Some have a maximum age at the end of your mortgage term, ranging between 70 and 95
  • Others have no maximum age at any point, as long as you can prove you’ll receive sufficient income throughout your mortgage to afford the repayments (for example, using your pension income)

As you can see, applying to the wrong lender could mean that you’re declined based on age even in your forties, while applying to the right lender could mean that age has no impact on your application. Read more on our mortgages for older borrowers page.

You have a low income

Again, many people believe there is a universal minimum income to get a mortgage. In fact, out of around 70 available lenders in the UK, only 20 have a minimum income requirement, ranging from £13,000 to £25,000. However, your income will still dictate how much you can borrow, but having a low income does not necessarily mean you can’t get a mortgage.

You have a low deposit

There’s an old rule of thumb that you need a 10% deposit to buy a home, so many people with less than that think that they won’t get a mortgage. Actually, more than half of all UK lenders will lend up to 95% of the property value, so you could get a mortgage with just a 5% deposit.

Your property is unmortgageable

If a property is uninhabitable (such as one without a fully functioning roof, bathroom, or electricity system) it is usually unmortgageable, though you could consider another type of financing, such as a bridging loan.

 In all other cases, it’s likely that you can find a lender who’ll provide a mortgage, even if the property:

Not all lenders provide mortgages for all these property types, so you may have been declined previously. This doesn’t mean that you can’t get a mortgage, just that you haven’t yet found the right lender.

How a broker can help if you can’t get a mortgage

An experienced broker who has whole of market access, just like the ones we work with, can help you to:

  • Understand why you can’t get a mortgage (or why you’ve been declined) and what steps you need to take next
  • Find a specialist lender who understands the complexities of your situation
  • Maximise your borrowing by identifying lenders who offer high-income multiples
  • Renegotiate with lenders if you’ve been declined in the past
  • Make your application strong and error-free to avoid any more rejections

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What to do if you can’t get a big enough mortgage

Lenders generally use income multiples to decide the maximum amount you can borrow. While many will only lend you up to 4.5 times your annual income, others may lend five times your annual income. So, applying to the right lender might allow you to increase your borrowing.

If you speak to a broker, you may also be able to increase your borrowing by reporting your income from sources other than salary. For example, you may not be aware that some lenders will include commission and bonus income in their calculations. Others might consider your benefit income, lodger income, or spousal support.

Get matched with a broker to maximise your chances of success

If you think you can’t get a mortgage, speaking to the right broker is crucial. For example, if you have bad credit, brokers who offer restricted advice and are limited to one provider may not be able to help you. The brokers we work with, who are trained and vetted by us and who have whole of market access, are far more able to find the right lender.

We work with numerous brokers who specialise in different areas, including high-income-multiple mortgages and various other complex home loans, who can give you expert advice. To get matched with a broker, simply call us on 0808 189 2301 or make an enquiry online.

Maximise your chance of approval with a specialist

Get Started Phone Icon 0808 189 2301


Not necessarily, it’s simply that mortgage lenders may need to be more diligent when conducting their affordability assessments to ensure you can afford your monthly repayments in light of the recent increases in the Bank of England’s base rate. 

At the moment (September 2023) mortgage lenders are changing their interest-rate offers on a regular basis, which makes it difficult for prospective borrowers to know which option is best for them. This is why the smart first move is to speak with a mortgage broker who can help you identify the lenders offering the best rates and help you prepare your application beforehand.

Your credit score won’t necessarily be affected but a mark is left when one lender searches for your record which other lenders are able to see, indicating that you’ve recently applied for a mortgage. 

This is why it’s important to reach out to a mortgage broker in this situation first rather than re-applying with another lender straight away.

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About the author

Pete, an expert in all things mortgages, cut his teeth right in the middle of the credit crunch. With plenty of people needing help and few mortgage providers lending, Pete found great success in going the extra mile to find mortgages for people whom many others considered lost causes. The experience he gained, coupled with his love of helping people reach their goals, led him to establish Online Mortgage Advisor, with one clear vision – to help as many customers as possible get the right advice, regardless of need or background.

Pete’s presence in the industry as the ‘go-to’ for specialist finance continues to grow, and he is regularly cited in and writes for both local and national press, as well as trade publications, with a regular column in Mortgage Introducer and being the exclusive mortgage expert for LOVEMoney. Pete also writes for Online Mortgage Advisor of course!

Read more about Pete

Pete Mugleston

Mortgage Advisor, MD

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