To think this is unfair and discriminatory?

(51 Posts)
Catsize Thu 11-Apr-13 11:23:57

We have a house. Mortgage has come to the end of its five year special rate and we are now on something much more expensive, so we want to switch.


Civil partnership for six years. Have had a mortgage for 13yrs, partner has had one for 28yrs. Never missed a payment. Both have good jobs. I have been self-employed for 11yrs and have all relevant accounts, figures etc. partner went self-employed as a freelance journalist to look after our son after I took seven months off to have him etc. She is earning money.

We are fortunate to have 60% equity in the house.


Because I had a baby and don't get maternity leave etc, my income dipped. It is rising again. It has been fairy constant for the past years, but dropped to half of usual on year end 2012. As soon as I went back, income was back to usual level.
Have tried to remortgage, but am getting turned down again and again as they will only look at most recent year end, as this was a drop in income.

They will not consider my partner's income at all because she does not have three years' accounts (would have been better with her continuing employment and putting child in nursery!). Naturally though, they take into account her car loan, credit cards etc.! I am deemed to have two dependents, even though that is not the reality.

Spent an hour on the phone to HSBC yesterday (who allegedly averaged last three years, in which case we still qualified just about) to be told I could be lent less than twice my income. Marvellous. No real reason given, but can only assume it is for the same reasons as the other companies -drop in income due to maternity leave so the computer says 'no'!

We appear to have hit a brick wall.

Just wondering if anyone else has experience of this? Any helpful mortgage companies out there?!

Have written to MP and government but would help to have experience of others.

Sorry this is rather long!

Callisto Thu 11-Apr-13 11:27:37

Have a hunt around for new banks that are starting to pop up all over the place. Also, I hear the PO is going to start banking services. Have you tried Co-Op?

It is bad though, especially as the banks are meant to be lending money. HSBC are a law unto themselves though - they didn't need bailouts so they can lend to who they want. You may have better luck with HBOS?

Catsize Thu 11-Apr-13 11:48:20

Post Office was one of the worst. As for HSBC, been a customer for 20 years! Will try the Co-op. and trying new banks is a good idea too, thank you. Just think the wider apparent discrimination needs addressing, and wondering if there are some Mumsnet troops I can rally!
Just getting a bit down about it. Need the good old fashioned days when you could sit around a table rather than have a computer make a decision (although that probably led to injustices too!).

Callisto Thu 11-Apr-13 11:51:33

Have you checked Money Saving Expert? The forum there is great and you may get recommendations. They also may already be rallying troops about this issue.

MammaTJ Thu 11-Apr-13 11:57:35

I am not seeing where discrimination comes in to it to be honest.

Banks aren't lending to anyone if they can help it.

mumofweeboys Thu 11-Apr-13 12:01:27


Have u tried mortgage broker? They are more used to dealing with these senarios?

TheToysAreALIVEITellThee Thu 11-Apr-13 12:03:23

Its not discrimination as they would be saying this to anybody in your situation, they would probably say it to me as my income has dropped to half of what it was

fairylightsinthespring Thu 11-Apr-13 12:03:29

I agree they are being unreasonable to not look at the whole picture - a "computer says no" situation but not sure where I see the discrimination. The fact that your income dropped due to mat leave rather than anything else is irrelevant to the figures how they are looking at them, so not on that score and nothing to suggest that they are refusing on the grounds of civil partnership rather than marriage either.

Catsize Thu 11-Apr-13 12:14:54

Hello again. Just to clarify, not suggesting there is a discrimination point re:CP rather than marriage, just relevant to circumstances when looking at mortgage etc. as marriage and CP create different financial liabilities re:the other partner.
In essence, my understanding is that pregnancy discrimination stuff is designed to ensure that you are not being treated less favourably than someone else by virtue of a pregnancy. So, for example...
If employed and have maternity leave, not a problem, as income is still 'X' for the purposes of application.
If I were a bloke in the same job, would not apply. Wouldn't have had the dip in income.
If my income had dipped because of financial climate etc, not a problem, as we are all similarly affected.
However, where the reason they are refusing to provide a service is pregnancy-related, I thought that that was where it got a bit dodgy.
It is likely to be a real problem for self-employed single mothers and couples where the woman (or the woman who takes maternity leave) is the higher earner and self-employed.
Plan to go to a mortgage broker, but just think that we shouldn't have to!
Appreciate your input, thank you. smile

GetLippie Thu 11-Apr-13 12:21:15

But you're not being discriminated against because you were pregnant, it's because your income took a dip - if your income had dropped for any reason - any reason whatsoever - then you would have been treated the same way, I'm afraid.

Catsize Thu 11-Apr-13 12:28:14

Thanks Getlippie. I see the two as intrinsically linked. If my income had dipped for reasons of illness, or economic climate etc., the same applies to everyone. Just think this situation bites different provisions. Whilst I think that there should be discretion where illness etc is concerned, it is not protected by law.

CwtchesAndCuddles Thu 11-Apr-13 12:31:57

I don't se the discrimination either.

WilsonFrickett Thu 11-Apr-13 12:41:26

Yes but in any situation if a person takes time off and their income dips, the outcome would be the same, so it's not discrimnatory. If you had a baby and your male partner then took 7 months off, his income dipping in the same way, the outcome would be the same. If the same man took 7 months off to look after an ill parent, or to travel the world, it would be the same outcome.

I know it's shitty though. I would definitely recommend a broker for a mortgage when one or both people are self-employed though.

Chocovore Thu 11-Apr-13 12:48:31

You have not been discrimindated against because of your pregnancy. If you chose to, you could have legally returned to work 2weeks post birth to prevent the drop in income (not that many people choose to do that, obviously).

ChairmanWow Thu 11-Apr-13 12:51:13

Hmmm, that is a bit weird. We moved house 6 weeks ago and extended our mortgage with HSBC. Although we are both in permanent employment I started mat leave for 12 months 2 weeks before the move. All they wanted was some pay slips. Obviously it makes a difference you being self-employed but then again there's no guarantee of me returning to work after my mat leave (though I will be).

I'd take it up with a manager perhaps. You're long-standing customers and they won't want to lose you.

monniemae Thu 11-Apr-13 13:18:21

I would call a mortgage broker - London & County are great (free) and can advise you on who will for eg consider your partner's income after all....

monniemae Thu 11-Apr-13 13:19:08

FYI we needed a fast mortgage AND my boyfriend was about to switch jobs and they could advise who would be fine about both. Similarly some want three years accounts, some don't; some don't like you on maternity leave, others don't care..

Alwayscheerful Thu 11-Apr-13 13:25:01

HSBC are one of the cheapest and their rules are pretty strict. Lots of more flexible lenders with less stringent lending criteria.

I wonder which one of you was classed as the main earner (first named on the mortgage perhaps?) and which one was the secondary earner.

Could it possibly be the income multiples are the problem? eg main earner was for example 3.5 x income and the secondary earner was 1 x income?

I would enquire and then think about using a broker to get you thye best deal.

WilsonFrickett Thu 11-Apr-13 13:26:03

chairman it's completely different for self-employed people. You have a job with a guaranteed salary to go back to, OP has a drop in income which is making them doubt her ability to pay the mortgage.

sparechange Thu 11-Apr-13 13:35:58

Sorry, this is really not discrimination. And, rant incoming, it makes me a bit annoyed when that word is bandied around to apply to any situation where you don't get your own way, because it totally undermines actual cases of proper discrimination.

Have you tried an independent financial adviser, or mortgage broker?
I went to one for my last mortgage and they were great. Because they deal with a massive range of circumstances and situations, they generally have a good feel for which lenders are slow/fast at processing applications, which ones are really strict on income criteria and which ones have a bit of leeway.

Personally, I was advised against HSBC because they tend to advertise the cheapest rates then can't cope with the deluge of applications they get. Santandar and Northern Rock (which is now Virgin?) were supposed to be the better ones for taking 'non standard' borrowers (in my case they accepted a letter from my employer about a bonus, and lent based on that, even though I was new in the job and couldn't prove I would get it)

Hope you find something

Oblomov Thu 11-Apr-13 13:37:13

We too went with London and County when our 5 yr fixed rate came to an end, a couple of months ago. I posted a thread just like you have. Dh had just started a new job and only had 2 months payslips and was still under probationary period.
All sorted. New 5 year deal is up and running.

Mutley77 Thu 11-Apr-13 14:08:26

I don't think this is discrimination either - it is the way it is and any dip in income would be treated similarly (for illness, pay decrease, redundancy, etc).

I think self-employed people have it particularly hard but then the level of risk is significantly higher so it makes sense really.

Agree with others that HSBC are rubbish on flexibility - they offered us a mortgage based on all of our circumstances (we were really long-standing, good customers) and then when we had offered on a house they cut the amount they would lend by about 50K, which was crucial to us at the time! Luckily an IFA easily found us a deal which meant we could proceed with our offer but it was an anxiety provoking time. In a v small competitive (to buyers) market we would have been lucky to ever get a house if we had needed to pull out from the house due to not having a mortgage approved when we said we had.

Catsize Thu 11-Apr-13 14:57:07

Thanks everyone. chocovore, if I may say, your argument against me is probably the strongest. As I am self-employed, I didn't even have to wait two weeks to go back to work and could have gone back at 9am after a 23:15 birth (but I was quite ill so would have been rubbish! smile ). So yes, take your point.
There was a debate in parliament in 2011 about sex discrimination by banks, but not sure where it got to (eg women asking to borrow money being asked about plans re:family etc but men not).
Rarely (ever?) do I want to jump on the discrimination bandwagon.
As my dad said, it's actually a pants business decision on their part (to be fair, he didn't say 'pants'). With such equity in the house, you'd think they would take a flyer. I am in the legal profession, so although my income fluctuates a bit, it is fairly reliable. I am not much of a risk, if you like.
oblomov, and monniemae, willl check them out, thank you.
alwayscheerful, they won't consider my partner's income at all (which is not insignificant but a third of mine), as she has only recently become self-employed to care for our baby at home. So mine was the only one, and I was 'granted' less than 2x my income. Ah well....

DoJo Thu 11-Apr-13 17:56:21

I am self employed and taking maternity leave has impacted my ability to earn as much as I did before my pregnancy, as I suspect it probably does for many. I think you are probably being discriminated against for being self-employed more than you are for anything else, and that's just one of the delights of going that route. Do you have any offers of work or contracts that you could show to demonstrate that your earnings have increased again? Show account statements to demonstrate that your earnings have gone back to previous level? I agree that a broker will probably be your best bet, and at least help you to stop wasting your time wondering what you need to demonstrate your position.

Picturesinthefirelight Thu 11-Apr-13 18:02:48

Unfortunately it is one of those things with regards being self employed. I was able to keep things going during the time after I had a baby, partly because dh and I are both s/e but his income dropped as his childcare responsibilities increased too.

lisaro Thu 11-Apr-13 18:05:36

Unfortunate - but certainly not discriminatory. I wish people would stop using it as an excuse when it isn't so, otherwise genuine cases of discrimination will start to be ignored. Is it discriminatory to not give a mortgage to someone who has too little income to pay it? The lenders are being careful - about bloody time.

trinity0097 Thu 11-Apr-13 18:06:52

In your situation I would use a broker as they know which ones to avoid totally for hour situation and which would be more helpful!

Catsize Thu 11-Apr-13 18:36:44

Can demonstrate all sorts of things. Don't have a choice about being self-employed as I work as a barrister, and nerly all barristers are self-employed (and no, we don't all earn £500k a year before I get those jibes! smile ), so in terms of ability to demonstrate future earnings etc., this is very easy. Suppose I had a choice in that I could have chosen a different career? Bit of a big ask maybe...
As someone pointed out today, going back much sooner would have made breastfeeding almost impossible. As I cannot nip out of court for breaks etc., could only express at lunchtime (if I wasn't having to work over lunch) and at the end of the working day (in all sorts of odd places, usually in full regalia!). I was rubbish at expressing to begin with and only managed it efficiently after a few months.
Aooreciate your help folks, and the civilised nature of this thread. flowers

Catsize Thu 11-Apr-13 18:38:20

lisaro, we more than meet the income requirements, hence sense of unfairness.

lisaro Thu 11-Apr-13 19:01:16

Sorry Catsize for not being clear, I meant that as an example, not directly at your circumstances.

Catsize Thu 11-Apr-13 19:50:30

Oh, thanks for clarifying. I agree it isn't discriminatory to refuse a mortgage to someone who cannot pay it. Think that just makes sense, whereas our scenario doesn't. Grrrrr. Banks. Grrrr. smile

Catsize Thu 11-Apr-13 20:02:58

Just looked at the Equality Act 2010. Would def be discrimination if treated less favourably due to being a)pregnant or b) within 26wks of giving birth. However, this scenario is a grey area perhaps as whilst I am being treated unfavourably by virtue of my pregnancy and its 26wk aftermath, I am not within the 26wk period at the moment (child now 15mths). An interesting point...

Catsize Thu 11-Apr-13 20:05:21

Should clarify - was only off work for 13 or 14 weeks afterwards but doubt that matters.

Floggingmolly Thu 11-Apr-13 20:26:36

We're still in a recession; of course your most recent earning potential is what they'll be most interested in hmm
It would only qualify as discrimination if they have applied a different policy to someone else - have they?

Catsize Thu 11-Apr-13 21:06:53

Hi floggingmolly. Haven't been treated differently in the sense that they would treat all self-employed women who had a period off work to have a baby in the same way. That is the bad thing. However, I have been treated differently by virtue of pregnancy etc. than I would have been but for the pregnancy. If I had not had a baby, I would have had no problem at all.
I can demonstrate that this drop in income is totally explicable and that the last eleven years are fine and that the next thirty years are likely to be, as I cannot be made redundant etc. and there is no prospect of my job disappearing. As long as I don't do something very naughty indeed! grin
Pregnancy affecting income is different to lower income due to illness, fluctuating business etc for reasons set out above.
And if it went belly up, they'd have a recently-built house with 60% equity to sell.

I totally understand where you are coming from here.

We are looking to refinance a mortgage as well - not borrow anymore money at all. We are on SVR at (I think) about 5.5%. We could get a rate of about 3% - but our income doesn't support it. We can afford (just) what we are paying now, and this will make it more affordable, but because it doesn't fit the calculators we can't remortgage!

I totally get it, I used to work in mortgages, but that doesn't make it any less frustrating. Wish we could still self-cert!

NiceTabard Thu 11-Apr-13 21:16:58

we applied for a remortgage when I was on mat leave and they told me they wouldn't take my usual salary into account as they couldn't guarantee that I would go back to work after mat leave.

I was pretty pissed off TBH as they were saying that, what, an adult woman doesn't know her own mind? Men might go part time or take a sabbatical or anything but they don't go questioning them whether they are intending to carry on working or not.

So I kind of get where you're coming from. my only suggestion is to shop around.

IThinkOfHappyWhenIThinkOfYou Thu 11-Apr-13 21:19:17

I would see a financial advisor. Can you still self cert? Mine is self cert but I've had it 12 years. I'm scared to move in case I lose it, my rate is to die for.

Nancy66 Thu 11-Apr-13 21:24:19

A lot of lenders won't let you self certificate any more - they have been too badly stung. they now want to see SA302 forms from the Inland Revenue detailing the breakdown of your earnings for each tax year.

badguider Thu 11-Apr-13 21:27:55

I get where you're coming from. I am s-e and taking six months off this year. I have got my accountant to write MATERNITY LEAVE in huge letters all across this year's accounts so that it's very clear that I there was a personal rather than business reason for the lower bottom line. This applies for when I have to show my accounts when I tender for jobs etc.
I also have a client who insists on paying me PAYE even though I only do 59 hours a year for them (it's a university, i teach one module). So I always have to preface my accounts with a letter from my accountant about my entire income.

There must be a way of finding out which mortgage lenders are most self-employment friendly... Try the self-employed/freelance board on here and maybe also google for 'mortgages for the self-employed' some broker is bound to be specialising as there are a lot of us in a similar position.

Pilgit Thu 11-Apr-13 21:28:25

go to a mortgage broker - they can have these conversations with the banks and know how to pitch it. It isn't discrimination really but it is bloody unfair as they won't look at the full picture - this is where a good mortgage broker earns their money (they also get better deals)

badguider Thu 11-Apr-13 21:32:28

maybe give this lot a call (number at the bottom):

Goodwordguide Thu 11-Apr-13 21:42:09

Definitely go via a broker - DH and I were both self-employed, were returning from abroad and I had just returned from maternity leave and we managed to get a mortgage (with Halifax). I think we had about a 40% cash deposit, which helped, and we used a broker via St James Place. Brokers have relationships with the mortgage companies and can argue your case.

This was pre-financial crisis however, and the market has of course tightened since then.

herethereandeverywhere Thu 11-Apr-13 21:43:30

When FirstDirect (owned by HSBC) refused to recognise my income because I was on maternity leave which is discriminatory, we ended up with RBS private bank through a broker (and screwed out of £5k by First Direct Grrrr still bitter). The broker cost us but did the business for getting just the mortgage we needed!

Blending Thu 11-Apr-13 22:01:19

Our fixed rate tracker came to an end whilst I was on the unpaid element of ML, so we were unable to switch to a new lender, as I found like yourself it prove that my salary dip was temporary.

Our existing lender allowed us to switch to a better mortgage, with minimal fuss, no drama. It turned out it was less than our previous rate and close to one of the better rates availible at the time (2 years ago)

We will be in exactly the same position when this one ends as I am pregnant again. I hope they can do something simular this time.

Have you looked at what your existing provider can do for you? Especially with a proven track record of payments and a decent amount of equity in the property they should be able to offer something better than the standard rate.

Catsize Thu 11-Apr-13 22:34:17

Thank you everyone for your suggestions. We tried our current lender first of all and they weren't interested . 'Lower rates are for new customers. Yes, we prefer to treat our new customers more favourably than our loyal ones' etc.
After no joy with lots of people, my partner rang them again today. She had found a letter in which they promised to beat the repayments after the promotional period ended. Result is that they will lower payments. Not massively, but they would be lower. For a £999 fee of course. Eh? What is there to rearrange?? Especially on a remortgage. Still, we are gratefulish, especially as they haven't yet gone into accounts etc.
Re:self-cert, not sure this works any longer. I have 14yrs of accounts. Partner doesn't, so it would be relevant for her.
What the above posts show is that this is sadly a common problem. Although I am not applying to remortgage in the middle of maternity leave, the effect and the reasoning is the same.
Oooh nicetabard, I would have been grumpy too.
We are going for as long a fixed rate period as poss to avoid this possibly happening again, should we brave be blessed with a second child. hmm
We were trying to avoid using mortgage broker, but think it may be the way forward. Have done so many times in the past. Simply that getting to appointments is more of a faff nowadays! smile Oh, and we thought our financial circumstances would make an application quite straightforward. grin

Catsize Thu 11-Apr-13 22:36:47

herethereandeverywhere, they screwed you out of £5k?? Do tell! Major grrrrrrrrrrrr!

x2boys Sat 13-Apr-13 09:24:42

Sorry if i,m not understanding is your partner working freelance? and is your mortgage in both your names? if so should nt they look at your combined income?

badguider Sat 13-Apr-13 09:58:50

They don't look at freelance income until you have at least three tears of accounts (all un-marred by maternity leave).
Op's accounts include the year she took mat leave and her partner doesn't have three years yet.

badguider Sat 13-Apr-13 09:59:23

Years not tears blush

Alwayscheerful Sat 13-Apr-13 13:25:46

My husband is a Chartered Accountant, a Member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants, the Institute often send out flyers promoting special rates for self employed members. I wonder if you have a professional body with similar connections?

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