Helena McAleer was reduced to tears after NatWest said she had breached her mortgage terms by letting her two-bedroom property in Belfast to a tenant in receipt of support from the state.
The 35-year-old was given the stark ultimatum of making her tenant homeless or footing a £2,500 bill to leave the NatWest deal, after asking for a further advance from the lender.
The tenant is an older woman, who suffers from mental health problems and would likely struggle with the moving process, according to McAleer.
She told Mortgage Solutions: “I was angry at the fact that another human being could ask me to kick out another human being.
“It was very black and white… they don’t think about that person, you’re just an anonymised piece of data… that’s what hurt me, that’s not fair.”
She added: “[The tenant] is a vulnerable older lady, she has mental health issues; I’m not putting her out on the street.”
Couldn’t ask for a better tenant
The marketing innovation manager remortgaged to NatWest in January through broker Habito, providing information about her tenant’s situation to the digital adviser.
But when she approached NatWest about taking money out of the property to buy in London in September, the lender said it had not been disclosed that the tenant was in receipt of government support.
McAleer refused to remove the tenant and asked NatWest to reconsider.
The tenant has been in place since 2016 and is set to stay for the foreseeable future.
McAleer said: “I have no doubt the tenant will be there for many years which, as a landlord, is great to know.
“Long-term security and payments, I couldn’t ask for a better tenant.”
But NatWest said it would not change its stance.
A spokeswoman for the lender said: “The bank has specific lending criteria and is not able to offer mortgages in certain circumstances, including where the applicant or broker has advised they want to let the accommodation to Department of Social Security tenants.
“There are specialist providers who are better suited for customers in this circumstance.”
Habito admitted that it should not have advised McAleer to take out a deal with NatWest.
The digital broker is to pay any early repayment charges, as well as additional costs including new mortgage fees and charges.
A spokeswoman for Habito said: “We are aware of this issue and have been working with Ms McAleer to resolve it.
“We fully acknowledge that the buy-to-let mortgage product we initially advised her on was not appropriate, in light of Natwest’s policy on DSS tenants.
“With that, however, we are currently advising Ms McAleer on a remortgage and we will be bearing all the costs associated with it.
“Ms McAleer will not be financially impacted by this, nor will she need to make any changes relating to her current tenants.
“Great customer service is of the utmost importance to us at Habito and we look forward to resolving this matter swiftly and to Ms McAleer’s complete satisfaction.”