One in four young female home-buyers have hidden their family plans from a mortgage lender out of fear that they will be offered a worse deal or even rejected, research suggests.

A survey from uSwitch.com among more than 2,000 women aged 25 to 45 who had applied for a mortgage found that 25 per cent had intentionally kept their family plans from lenders in case they missed out on the best mortgage rate or were rejected.

Examples of this included not telling the lender that they were planning to start a family in the near future, not telling the lender that they were pregnant and claiming that they were going to take a shorter maternity leave than they had really planned.

The survey was carried out among women who have applied for a mortgage in the UK, either successfully or unsuccessfully, in the last five to 10 years.

Stricter mortgage lending rules were introduced in 2014, to make sure that mortgage applicants can only take on debts that they can truly afford to pay back.

This means that lenders now have to ask borrowers more thorough questions about their income and outgoings in order to make sure that they can afford the deal they are applying for.

The research also found that 8.5 per cent of mortgage applicants aged between 25 and 35 felt that they had been rejected by a lender or offered a less competitive rate due to a pregnancy, plans to start a family or because they were of child bearing age.

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The Financial Ombudsman Service, which resolves disputes between consumers and financial services firms, said it had only seen a very small number of complaints from consumers around this subject.

But, it said, anyone who does have a complaint which they cannot resolve with their financial firm should get in touch.

Tashema Jackson, a money expert at uSwitch.com, said that not only can withholding information from a mortgage lender cause borrowers stress and anxiety, it can also have severe implications in terms of invalidating any mortgage offers.

She said: “Those planning a family may be able to manage their repayments even with a drop in household income, thanks to careful planning or savings”.

Bernard Clarke, a spokesman for the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML), said: “We have published guidance for members to help them understand their obligations under equalities legislation and how they may handle the issue of responsible lending, including affordability, when taking into account future changes to the income and expenditure of customers.

“The Financial Conduct Authority has been quite clear that the requirement for lenders to take into account future changes to income and expenditure for borrowers does not conflict with their obligations under equalities legislation.

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“So, lenders may ask borrowers if they are aware of any changes to their income and expenditure that could affect their ability to meet their mortgage payments. There is a whole range of life events or changes in circumstances that could affect the ability to pay, including redundancy, maternity leave, career breaks and divorce.”

AAP

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