Self-employment is a lifestyle choice for millions of people offering freedom and flexibility.
But the downside is that buy to let mortgage may equate self-employment with a lack of job security and therefore view a self-employed individual as a higher risk customer, when considering their application for a loan.
As a self-employed landlord, might seem like a barrier to entry when looking to purchase a new home or extend your portfolio by investing in buy to let property.
But the good news is that you can still get a buy to let mortgage, even though the application process may mean jumping through a few more hoops than a salaried borrower must follow.
“As a self-employed landlord, there are a few steps you can take to improve your chances of a successful buy to let mortgage application. At Total Landlord Mortgages we are here to support you in finding the right financial solution,” says Daniel Lee, Principal at Hamilton Fraser Total Landlord Mortgages.
Using our 25-year experience in the property finance sector, we’ve put together some tips on how to package your work prospects and finances for a bank or building society so that you are not seen as a high-risk customer.
Self-employed mortgages by numbers
First, it’s worth taking a look at the statistics relating to mortgages for the self-employed. Unfortunately, lenders do not give away the numbers specifically for self-employed buy to let loans, but it is fair to assume they follow a similar trend.
Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows 14 per cent of workers are self-employed. That’s 4.53 million out of the country’s working population of 32.51 million people.
Separate data from tech consultancy Studio Graphene revealed eight per cent of 18 to 55 year olds had recently started a business and another ten per cent planned to go self-employed. Their main motivation for this change was as a result of their former employers placing them on furlough or making them redundant due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Other recent data tells a story for the self-employed:
- Since 2010, only ten per cent of all mortgages have been offered to the self employed
- If you are self-employed, you have a three out of four (75 per cent) chance of a successful mortgage application, compared to 89 per cent of borrowers with poor credit and 86 per cent of retirees, although it is a little more difficult it is still possible
What makes someone self-employed?
For a mortgage, you are self-employed if you are:
- A sole trader, partner in a busines or own 20 per cent or more of the shares in a company
- A contractor with income from two or more contracts
- Owner of a franchise
- Someone whose income includes dividends or a profit share from a company or limited liability partnership
If you have a job but are planning to go self-employed or become a full-time professional landlord, you are likely to lock yourself out of the mortgage market for at least two years until you have trading accounts that prove your financial status.
Although some people talk about self-employed buy to let mortgages, in the main the loan is no different from one offered to a salaried borrower.
The real difference is some lenders are more open to lending to the self-employed despite the extra job security risks the arrangement may carry.
Proving your self-employed income
Lenders will have their own checklists of documents that they want to see to prove your income for a self-employed buy to let loan.
The typical list will include:
- At least two to three years of accounts drafted by a qualified accounting professional
- Form SA302 or other confirmation of tax payments covering the same time period as the accounts from HM Revenue & Customs
- Business bank statements
- Contracts showing future work for contractors
- Evidence of dividends and other payments if you are a shareholder or director
You will also have to provide all the standard mortgage application documents such as:
- Photo identification to comply with money-laundering rules
- Up-to-date utility bills to prove your address
- At least six months of personal bank statements
Self-employed buy to let mortgage tips
As a self-employed borrower, as well as jumping through some of the extra hoops we’ve mentioned above, here are some of the additional steps self-employed landlords need to take:
- Expect to pay a deposit of at least 25 per cent of the property value and up to 40 per cent for the best interest rates
- How much you can borrow is based on the rent a property generates not your profits from self-employment. The lender will recommend the rent covers the mortgage payments by between 125 per cent and 145 per cent at rates between 3.6 per cent to circa 5.5 per cent. You may need a letter from an ARLA letting agent to certify this
However, some lenders will also have a minimum income threshold starting at £25,000 a year.
- A few lenders allow the self-employed to self-certify their income for a buy to let loan
- If you are a professional landlord renting out four or more properties, lenders have their own rules about the number of buy to let mortgages you can hold or the value of a portfolio, so it is important to do your research before making an application
Which lenders are the best for the self-employed?
Most high street and internet lenders have deals for the self-employed. If you are turned down, you might want to look for a specialist self-employed lender. The chance of a specialist accepting your application is probably higher, but you may pay a little more.
If you are a self-employed landlord or looking to invest in buy to let, , consider using a broker like Total Landlord Mortgages who can scout the market for a lender who best suits your borrowing needs and is specialised in rental property.
Many specialist self-employed lenders only accept self-employed applications packaged by brokers, while your bank or building society can only discuss their products and won’t inform you of deals available from other lenders.
Should I ask my business bank for a buy to let mortgage?
Two schools of thought apply to asking your business bank for a buy to let loan.
There is an argument that your bank already knows you as a customer and would look on your business and finances more favourably. But banks are hard-nosed businesses and must work to strict lending rules laid down by regulators whoever you are, so you are unlikely to receive favourable treatment.
In addition, you must remember a bank is only able to offer products that they have available, whereas at Total Landlord Mortgages we have access to over 50 of the market’s leading lenders as well as many challenger banks for the more complex deals.
The other point to consider is whether you want to put your eggs in one basket by tying your property and business together, so your lender has a complete picture of your finances.
It’s not a right or wrong decision, just something to bear in mind.
How has COVID-19 affected self-employed mortgages?
Mortgage lending is about balancing risk, and at the start of the pandemic, lenders were worried the self-employed would suffer financially and leave them holding a lot of debt. Especially in the buy to let market as many tenants may have fallen into rent arrears due to being made redundant or furloughed.
During the pandemic, lenders have taken action to reduce their risk of mortgage lending to the self-employed. Their responses include:
- Demanding higher cash deposits
- Not accepting COVID-19 grants as income
- Generally tightening affordability rules
“The good news is lending restrictions affecting the self-employed are easing even though we have seen an increase in the number of loans for the self-employed declined due to affordability issues,” says Daniel Lee (pictured), Principal at Hamilton Fraser Total Landlord Mortgages.
“The signs are self-employed mortgages are back on track and the service is getting better. For advice on the right financial solution for you and to request a mortgage quotation, contact us today on 0333 224 8918.”