We investigated women and mortgage discrimination after a number of enquiries the Financial Ombudsman Service received from women who felt their mortgage applications were rejected because they were due to go on maternity leave.
Our research found:
- Nearly one in ten (9%) female mortgage applicants aged between 25 and 35 say they have been discriminated against by lenders over their plans to start a family.
- 25% women who applied for a mortgage, intentionally hid family plans from lenders, fearing they will miss out on the best rate or even be rejected.
- More than one in ten women would delay having a child to secure a mortgage on their dream home.
Of those confessing to hiding their plans from their lender, 77% did so out of fear of their application being rejected or missing out on the best rate.
Current criteria out of step
In order to cope with any drop in income, half of women save up before going on maternity leave, in order to cover monthly mortgage repayments and other essential household bills and 79% of women believe that savings should be taken into account when applying for a mortgage.
Overall, 27% of women think the current affordability criteria is out of step with modern family finances.
Penalised for starting a family?
Tashema Jackson, money expert at uSwitch.com, says:
“There is a strong feeling that mortgage lenders, rightly or wrongly, may be penalising women for starting a family. A worrying outcome is that some female mortgage applicants are feeling forced to withhold information from potential lenders.
“While it’s vital that lenders help people only borrow within their means and ensure they can afford future payments, it’s not fair for lenders to make blanket assumptions. Those planning a family may be able to manage their repayments even with a drop in household income, thanks to careful planning or savings.
“If you feel that you have been discriminated against for any reason, you should lodge a complaint with the mortgage provider before escalating to the Financial Ombudsman Service.”
What do you think?