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Mortgages on uninhabitable property

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By Pete Mugleston   Mortgage Advisor

Last updated: 25th September 2018 *

So you’re thinking of buying an uninhabitable property?

The question many might ask is ‘why’? This is the same question many lenders will ask, but then you might have a vision to bring an old home back to its former glory, it might be something unique or it might be run down; but located in a fantastic position. As they say … location, location, location.

Either way, you’ve got your work cut out for you if you’re looking for a mortgage on an uninhabitable house, as many lenders will decline mortgage applications where the property is not up to standard or the property is unlivable, forcing work to be carried out pre-purchase or monies to be retained, both of which can scupper an otherwise creditworthy investment.

Thankfully, there are several options outlined below, which is why you should talk to one of the expert property advisors we work with to give you the right advice.

In this article we’ll cover:

So what makes a home uninhabitable?

There are a number of factors that will cause a lender to consider a property to be uninhabitable. Most are common sense, but some may seem a bit odd. These include:

  • No kitchen or bathroom (or multiple, perhaps signalling a commercial setup)
  • If the property isn’t wind and water proof
  • Significant damp or mould issues likely to cause health risks
  • Staircases not possessing handrails that comply with building regulations
  • If the property cannot be made secure
  • Non-standard roofs
  • Contaminated Outside areas (Japanese knotweed and other issues)
  • And the real bogey man, asbestos.

Some lenders may not even give a valuation at all if they don’t regard the property to be habitable.

Even if you think the property is habitable, the valuer may deem it uninhabitable and decide that essential building work is needed, and the lender may consider a mortgage conditional on repairs. The good news is that once the building work has been completed, it should qualify for a mortgage.

A mortgage on an uninhabitable house or one deemed to be derelict, is probably unmortgageable, unless you know how to go about it – thankfully the advisors we work with do.

What if the property has Japanese knotweed?

Every lender will require a professional mortgage survey to assess the knotweed and property in general, and they will judge the extent to which the knotweed causes (or will cause) a risk to the property.

Then, each lender will determine suitability based on their own policy for Japanese knotweed mortgages, and you’ll find some are much more flexible than others.

To find the best options available to you today, make an enquiry and we can put you in touch with the specialist who will place you with the best lender for Japanese knotweed mortgages.

Does the house have to have a working kitchen and bathroom?

In a word, ‘yes’. The chances of getting a main residential or buy to let mortgage with no kitchen or bathroom in the UK is pretty slim, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t lenders willing to look at a property without them either.

For residential and buy to let lenders, the property must have a working kitchen and bathroom, which effectively reduces the pool of lenders available to you to a small group of specialist lenders.

Strangely, getting a mortgage with two kitchens in a house can be just as problematic, as many lenders may think the property may become a house in multiple occupation (HMO).

But there are ways around this which we will go into later in this article. Again, the right advice can make the difference between buying the property or not.

Does the property need to be weatherproof?

If you’re looking for a Mortgage on an uninhabitable house, then ‘yes’, the building needs to be weatherproof and able to be self-contained and secure.

If there is a chance of damage from a leaking roof, then the lender can deem the property too much of a risk and refuse your mortgage application.

Another consideration is that the chances of getting insurance on such a property could be extremely difficult, and as adequate building insurance is a mandatory requirement for all mortgage lenders, this can mean extremely high premiums or only allow a borrower buying outright in cash to purchase the property, if the property is impossible to insure.

Does the property need central heating?

This depends on the overall condition of the property and in a few cases some lenders may consider a property without central heating, but this all depends on the surveyor’s comments on the day. Some listed buildings may fall into this category.

What about an uninhabitable listed building?

Obtaining a mortgage for uninhabitable listed property in the UK is definitely not for the faint hearted.

A listed building will almost always require specialist restorations, including original style materials with building techniques and highly skilled tradespeople and artificers, all of which can be very expensive.

A fully restored listed building can be magnificent, so if you think the end result will be worth it, talk to one of the expert advisors we work with. There are brokers who specialise in this area and they’ll know which lenders to approach who may be sympathetic to your project.

Can I get a mortgage on property with asbestos?

Asbestos is a genuine health worry for many people and when it comes to getting a mortgage, asbestos can be a real problem. But it’s usually treatable and can be removed if it’s deemed a serious health risk.

Does the asbestos need to be removed?

Lenders would want an asbestos report completed by expert, UKATA, UKAS, ATAC, RSPH surveyors and may be OK with it as long as the asbestos isn’t damaged or if  the property has load-bearing asbestos panels.

A mortgage valuation with asbestos present can complicate matters and some lenders may need the asbestos to be removed first, although they may consider the surveyors comments regarding any remedial work that would need to be completed prior to approving a mortgage on property with asbestos present.

What about asbestos roof?

A mortgage on a house with an asbestos roof is less problematic, as long as the roof is undamaged and in good condition. However, always get expert advice.

Will the type of roof affect my chances of a mortgage?

If the building has a non-standard rooftop, mortgages may be more difficult to obtain. Lenders love slate or tile roofs; but may have issues with other types of roof construction. These include:

  • Flat Roofs –

    A mortgage on flat roof property or a flat roof extension is possible as long as the entire roof is not flat. Some lenders may consider them on a case by case basis, depending on what materials are used and the percentage of flat roof area. Blocks of flats with flat roofs are usually the exception to this rule.

  • Felt Roofs –

    Some lenders may consider a mortgage on a felt roof home, provided the mineralised felt was included as part of the original construction, not added later, and is in a good state of repair. There are a surprising number of listed homes that feature felt roofs, or at least part felt roof.

  • Thatched Roofs –

    The timeless beauty of the classic English cottage brings its own set of problems. As long as the valuer’s comments are positive, there are lenders who will be happy to approve a thatched roof mortgage, but there are caveats. Full property insurance must be available and the roof maintenance and replacement programme must be kept up to date.

  • Tin Roofs –

    Lenders will look at a number of factors here before considering a mortgage on a tin roof house. They will look at the valuer’s comments on the day, the potential for selling the property in the future, and even whether there are properties in the area with similar roof construction – in general, the more common a feature is for an area, the less likely it is to be a problem. The overall condition of the property is also a major consideration.

How will solar panels affect a mortgage?

This all depends on who owns them. Obtaining a mortgage with solar panels is possible, so long as they have been paid off and not leased / rented back to the energy provider.  They must be owned outright and not leased to a third party, otherwise they may not be acceptable to many lenders due to the ownership issues if the property was to ever be repossessed.

There are also issues about who is responsible for maintenance of both the roof and the solar panels affixed to them.

That said there are some lenders happy to consider solar panels for a mortgage, and we recommend you make an enquiry to get expert advice.

A mortgage valuation after essential repairs

A few lenders will request that you undertake rectification works and then consider your mortgage subject to repairs being to a satisfactory standard.

If you own the property already and are looking to refinance to pay for the work to be completed, then a secured loan or bridging finance loan may be the only option, other than using cash savings or funds from someone as a gift perhaps.

If you are looking to buy an uninhabitable property and a lender has declined the mortgage due to its current state, and are requesting repair work before they’ll complete, then there are a couple of options:

  1. Feed back to the vendor / estate agent and have them complete the work
  2. Pay for the work yourself pre-sale, perhaps agreeing to reduce the cost of the purchase in line with the expense of the repairs. The catch-22 here of course is that you may have to spend money (and possibly quite a lot) on a property that you don’t yet own, and approval will still be subject to a surveyor’s assessment thereafter.

Retentions

There are a few lenders that will approve a mortgage but release only a portion of the funds from the mortgage. This is called a mortgage retention, when the rest of the money lent will be released after the building work designated by the surveyor/valuer has been completed.

Is bridging finance an option?

Absolutely. Using bridging finance to buy an uninhabitable property might be an option as bridging lenders can have a higher appetite for risk and consider the viability of the project as a whole. If the property had money spent on it, could it be worth a lot more when sold, and cover the cost of the loan? If so, this allows the borrower to exit the bridging finance deal within the pre-agree timeframe (usually 6-12 months), and then the lenders are more willing to offer deals to complete the work.

Buying uninhabitable property at auction

Many derelict or uninhabitable properties are purchased at auction (where short term bridging finance is prevalent), so bridging finance could offer a viable solution.

Properties sold at auction usually require full payment for a winning bid within 28 days, which is not really enough time for a normal mortgage application. However, a bridging loan, depending on your credit history, can be approved in as little as a week or so.

If you are buying at auction, this gives you the opportunity (again depending on your circumstances) to borrow enough to purchase the property and complete the renovations. Once they are at an acceptable standard, you can approach a conventional mortgage provider.

It is important that you have an exit strategy in place in regard to your bridging finance. You need to decide whether you intend to sell the property once it has been renovated, rent it out or live in it yourself.

Talk to one of the advisors we work with and they’ll be able to point you in the right direction regarding bridging finance and the process of later converting it to a standard mortgage.

Can I use a second charge mortgage to buy an uninhabitable property?

The short answer is ‘yes’ and for many people, this may be a very attractive option.

You might know this type of loan as a second mortgage, secured loan, homeowners’ loan etc. and it has some distinct advantages for those looking to release some equity from a property that they may have.

A second charge mortgage is a loan secured against the equity in your property, essentially giving you two mortgages.

Depending on your circumstances and the equity you own, you may be able to raise enough money to purchase the property and finance the repairs, on another existing property you already own. Then, once the property has been brought up to standard, you could consider remortgaging your once uninhabitable home, and remortgage as a buy to let, or indeed move into it yourself.

Speak to an uninhabitable property mortgage expert

If you like anything in this article or you’d like to know more, call Online Mortgage Advisor today on 0800 304 7880 or make an enquiry here

Then sit back and let us do all the hard work in finding the broker with the right expertise for your circumstances.  – We don’t charge a fee and there’s absolutely no obligation or marks on your credit rating.

Updated: 25th September 2018
OnlineMortgageAdvisor 2019 ©

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 info 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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