I went through a bad period a number of years ago, becoming bankrupt as a result of bad advice. I have since turned things around and I am now back in regular employment. Recent press coverage has suggested that mortgage companies are now considering applications from people with a poor credit history, who have since proved their ability to pay. Is this the case or just speculation?

R Stornaway Farnham

Many mortgage lenders are happy to consider applications from customers who have previously been declared bankrupt, but have now established an employment and income track record, usually over two years. Your lender would need to know about the background of the bankruptcy, and the bankruptcy order itself must have been discharged by the courts for at least 12 months before you apply for a mortgage.

Your application will then be subject to a normal assessment, which may include credit scoring. If you fulfil the criteria I would advise you to contact a number of lenders to see what they can offer. Many people do experience bad periods in their life and lenders are improving their systems so they are able to look at cases on their own merits. Increasingly, people who have shown their ability to pay over a set period are not being punished for past financial problems.

TO BUY OR NOT TO BUY I live in council property and have been given the option to buy it. Obviously, I am interested in doing this as I will benefit from a discount. Do mortgage lenders provide support for this type of purchase?

Sheila Robinson


Mortgage companies will consider lending on council and former council properties, but the level of assistance they can offer will vary according to the type of property and terms of purchase. For example, NatWest can usually advance 100 per cent of the discounted purchase price for houses bought under council right-to-buy schemes.

All applications will be subject to the normal assessment procedures which usually include credit scoring.

MY BOYFRIEND'S MOVED IN My boyfriend has just moved into my flat. The mortgage is in my name and I get a discount on my council tax for living alone. How will this change, if at all?

L Bird


I would advise you in the first instance to contact your local council, which can provide you with a full answer and all the necessary documentation. The 25 per cent discount for living alone would no longer be applicable if your boyfriend was contributing in any way to the upkeep or maintenance of the flat.


My wife and I are first-time buyers and we've seen a houseboat on the Thames which we'd like to buy. Will we be able to get a conventional mortgage, and, if not, what is the best way to go about buying this type of property?

Jack Murray


Many lenders will not consider providing mortgages on houseboats. Problems include the difficulty in obtaining mooring rights and it is usually hard to get any security of tenure. However, don't be put off by all the obstacles, try the Residential Boat Owners' Association, which specialises in this type of transaction. It should be well worth talking to it before discarding the idea completely.

George Wise is managing director of NatWest UK Mortgage Services.

Send your queries on practical property issues to: Home Truths, Travel & Money, Independent on Sunday, 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5DL . Fax: 0171-293 2043; e-mail: