Questions of Cash: Can my sister really trust her husband if they buy a house?


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The Independent Online

Q | My sister and her husband want to buy a house together. He has in the past secretly taken out loans. She is worried he might do this again, perhaps using the house as collateral with the risk they might then lose their home. He might also default on his share of the mortgage repayments. Is there any way my sister can ensure that she will not lose the home if he ever takes out debt secured against it? He says his credit reference check is good and he will be clear of debt in another two years.  AN, by email.

A | To be blunt, your sister needs relationship advice more than financial guidance. However, there are some tips we can pass on. Firstly, it is imperative that your sister conducts her own credit check rather than relying on her husband’s verbal assurance on his financial situation. Any check your brother-in-law has previously undertaken may anyway not be up-to-date. Your sister can purchase a credit check from any of the main agencies Experian, Equifax or CallCredit. The best solution might be for her to buy the house in her sole name and without the financial involvement of her husband, but you tell us this is financially impossible.

Ray Boulgerfrom mortgage brokers John Charcol adds: “If one person in a couple can’t trust their partner over money matters, getting into any sort of joint financial arrangement is high risk.

“As they are married I presume she is prepared to accept the extra risk, but she should do so with her eyes wide open. Her biggest concern appears to be that her husband may borrow additional money on the property. He would not be able to do this legally without her consent. The property will be jointly owned, so both parties would have to sign the application form for any additional borrowing secured on it. There have been instances where a husband has fraudulently signed the application form for his wife, which is why I say he would not be able to borrow additional money secured on the property legally. I don’t understand the husband’s comment about the credit check showing he will be debt-free by 2016. I wonder if he actually means he has some adverse credit, which will fall off the credit register in 2016 because it will then be six years old.

“If her husband does have adverse credit this will have an impact on his ability to get a mortgage, which is another reason she should make sure she sees a credit check before spending time and money trying to buy a property.”


Q | In March this year I responded to a cold call from Scottish Power to sign up for a dual energy supply contract. Since then Scottish Power hasn’t taken a single direct debit payment. In April I noticed my SP statement showed a payment had been made, but nothing had been withdrawn from my bank account. When I inquired SP realised it had taken the money from another person’s account. It turned out that SP did not have my bank account details, which I then provided.  But again SP still did not try to collect any payments. At the end of August, worried that I by now owed considerable arrears,  I sent a strongly-worded online message urging SP to sort this out. I was told a “specialist” would contact me. But still nothing more happened. Without making any payments I cannot be sure that my new deal is actually cheaper than my previous supply from Npower. DL.

A | A spokeswoman for Scottish Power responds: “We have apologised to [the reader] for the inconvenience caused. The problem arose due to incorrect bank details being uploaded by one of our agents. This has now been updated with correct details. By way of an apology we have credited [the reader’s] account with two direct debit payments.”

Questions of Cash cannot give individual advice. But we’ll do our best to help if you have a financial dilemma. Email us at:

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