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By Pete Mugleston | Mortgage Advisor

Pete has been a mortgage advisor for over 10 years, and is regularly cited in both trade and national press.

Updated: 1st April 2021*

Before the financial crisis of 2007-08, people who couldn’t prove their income for a mortgage application often turned to a controversial form of borrowing called ‘self-certification mortgages’. More than a decade on, these products have disappeared from the UK market, but customers who can’t evidence their full earnings in the traditional way may have more viable options.

In our guide to self-certified mortgages, we explain what happened to these products, outline the best alternatives to them and reveal where you can turn for the right advice if you’re applying for a mortgage with no proof of income, or limited proof of income.

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What is a self-certification mortgage?

Self-certified mortgages were products aimed at people who are unable to provide proof of their regular income. In the UK, they were popular with self-employed professions, including freelancers, contractors, company directors and other people with non-standard income. They were often the only way people in this category could get approved for a mortgage.

How do they work?

With self-cert mortgages, no formal proof of income was required and most applicants were almost guaranteed acceptance. They allowed borrowers with non-traditional income to declare their own earnings on a mortgage application without backing them up with material evidence. Mortgage lenders would pretty much take the customer’s word for it when they said the loan was affordable, but charged them higher rates to safeguard themselves against the added risk.

Unfortunately, the lack of regulation in this market led to all kinds of shady practises and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) eventually clamped down on self-cert mortgages.

Are self-cert mortgages still available?

They are no longer available in the UK. The lack of regulation in this market led to a high number of unaffordable mortgages being offered and unscrupulous lending practises. The FCA banned self-cert mortgages in 2009 when it introduced its Responsible Lending Guidelines. These regulations stated that all mortgage lenders must validate all applicants’ income

All lenders must now carry out a creditworthiness assessment of a customer before…

  1. Entering into a regulated credit agreement
  2. Significantly increasing the amount of credit provided under a regulated credit agreement
  3. Significantly increasing a credit limit for running-account credit under a regulated credit agreement

Self-certified mortgages fall afoul of these guidelines and have not been legally available from UK lenders for more than a decade. But for customers with no-standard income and complex circumstances, there are alternative products now available, and they’re fully above board.

What are the best alternatives to self-cert mortgages?

Although self-certification mortgages no longer exist in the UK, mortgage brokers who specialise in self-employed customers and flexible mortgage lenders who understand their needs and trading style have emerged to help fill the void in this corner of the market.

To help self-employed people with non-traditional income get onto the property ladder, there are now lenders who offer self-employed mortgages under these niche circumstances…

Lenders who specialise in self-employed customers and the flexible mortgages they offer are the closest thing available to self-certification mortgages, but they’d also be a far better alternative even if self-cert was still available. This is because they’re less risky for both the lender and the borrower, usually come with lower interest rates and are fully regulated.

Finding one of these niche lenders is the tricky part, but we’re here to take the stress out of it. We work with mortgage brokers who help self-employed customers with limited proof of earnings or complex income get a mortgage every day. They know exactly which lenders to approach for these deals, and can introduce you to the right one first time.

Make an enquiry with us and we’ll match you with a specialist broker who can help you find the right lender. We won’t charge you for the introduction and your credit report won’t be affected.

Alternatives to a self-cert buy to let mortgage

While self-certification buy to let (BTL) mortgages no longer exist in the UK per se, prospective landlords who are unable to prove their personal income might still have options. Some buy to let mortgage providers won’t ask to see evidence of your personal income so long as they are satisfied that the investment is viable. These lenders don’t have any minimum income requirements and base their lending decision largely on the property’s rental potential.

This by no means applies to all buy to let mortgage lenders, as some won’t lend to anyone who is earning less than £25,000 and will expect applicants to evidence this income in the usual way. So, if you’re looking for an investment property and can’t prove your income, your best bet is to use a BTL broker who knows exactly which lenders don’t need to see proof of personal income.

Alternatives to a self-cert commercial mortgage

Given that commercial mortgages are not regulated by the FCA, lenders can be more flexible in this sector. While self-cert commercial mortgages aren’t available per se, business mortgage providers have a lot of leeway when it comes to customers who are pursuing a viable property investment but can’t prove their personal income in the traditional way.

Commercial mortgage affordability is often based on a company’s operating performance, and the lender will assess this by reviewing their earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA). But there are many commercial mortgage lenders out there, and since they assess applications on a case-by-case basis, you could well have options through a specialist broker if you’ve found a sound investment but can’t evidence your personal income.

Can I remortgage a self-cert mortgage?

If you took out a self-cert mortgage before they were banned, it may be possible to remortgage onto a more suitable product. Since self-certification mortgages were usually offered with high interest rates, many people who signed up for one before 2009 look to refinance in the hope of finding a more favourable deal, either with their current lender or a new one.

This would involve switching to another product type, rather than renewing your self-cert mortgage, and you would only be able to remortgage if you meet the lender’s eligibility and affordability criteria, which will include income proof. Perhaps your circumstances have changed since the original mortgage was taken out, and you can now evidence income in the traditional way; but if this isn’t the case, speak to a broker to find out what options might be available.

Speak to an advisor about self-cert mortgage alternatives

If you’re unable to prove your income in the traditional way, a self-cert mortgage wouldn’t have been the answer even when these products were around. Rates were high and lending was often irresponsible, but today, legitimate alternatives to self-cert have become available.

Mortgage brokers who specialise in customers with all kinds of complex income types and employment situations have emerged to fill the void left by the demise of self-certified mortgages, albeit in a more regulated and ethical way. So, if you need a mortgage with no proof of income, or limited proof of income, your best bet is to find the right advisor.

This is where we come in. We offer a free broker-matching service that will pair you up with the right advisor for you, someone who can get you the closest thing to a self-cert mortgage that’s legally available. Using the right broker will boost your chances of finding a mortgage, whether you’re self-employed with limited accounts or looking for a buy to let with no personal income.

Call 0808 189 2301 or make an enquiry online and we’ll set up a free, no-obligation with a broker who can find the best self-certification mortgage alternative today.

FAQs

Got a question about self-cert mortgages and their alternatives that we haven’t covered so far? Take a look through our FAQ section to find out whether it’s included here.

Are self-cert mortgages likely to return?

The return of self-cert mortgages in their previous form is highly unlikely. There are good reasons why they were removed from the market and the new lending criteria that has since been introduced and the flexible lenders that have filled the void are a much better alternative.

While new self-cert mortgages won’t be hitting the UK anytime soon, new flexible mortgage products aimed at customers with complex income are being introduced all the time.

Are there self-cert interest-only mortgages?

Not any longer. Self-certification interest-only mortgages were ushered out when the new FCA regulations came in. These days, you will need to provide some proof of income and evidence a viable repayment vehicle in advance to get an interest-only mortgage.

That said, there are brokers who specialise in interest-only mortgages and they may be able to negotiate flexible deals for customers who’d otherwise struggle to qualify one.

Take a look at our guide to interest-only mortgages to find out more.

Can I get a self-cert mortgage from overseas?

Although other countries have not banned self-cert like the UK, the FCA strongly advises against applying for these products with an overseas lender. This is mainly because of the lack of protection customers would have against things such as mis-selling and bad advice.

Instead of resorting to overseas borrowing, a safer bet would be speaking to a mortgage broker who specialises in complex income customers to find out what other options are available.

Updated: 1st April 2021
OnlineMortgageAdvisor 2021 ©

FCA disclaimer

*Based on our research, the content contained in this article is accurate as of most recent time of writing. Lender criteria and policies change regularly so speak to one of the advisors we work with to confirm the most accurate up to date information. The information on the site is not tailored advice to each individual reader, and as such does not constitute financial advice. All advisors working with us are fully qualified to provide mortgage advice and work only for firms who are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. They will offer any advice specific to you and your needs. Some types of buy to let mortgages are not regulated by the FCA. Think carefully before securing other debts against your home. As a mortgage is secured against your home, it may be repossessed if you do not keep up with repayments on your mortgage. Equity released from your home will also be secured against it.

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