Can you get a mortgage if you have a criminal record in Australia?

Yes, it is possible to secure a mortgage in Australia with a criminal record. Many lenders will not ask questions about your criminal history in their applications, and for those that do, they will consider the nature of the offence, how long ago it was committed, and whether you have been rehabilitated. If you are having trouble finding a lender who will give you a home loan with a criminal record, speak to a top mortgage broker who can connect you with lenders that are not concerned with background checks.

Homeownership is a goal for many Australians, for two main reasons. First, it is seen as a way to free yourself from spending hundreds of dollars a week on rent, and secondly, as an investment to grow your net worth, as house prices are continually growing. However, for individuals with a criminal record, the path to securing a mortgage and achieving this dream can be filled with uncertainty. This article explores how having a criminal record impacts your ability to get a mortgage in Australia, delving into the nuances of the application process and offering guidance for navigating this journey.

Understanding Criminal Records in Australia

In Australia, a criminal record comprises details of convictions from any Australian legal jurisdiction. This can include a range of offences, from minor infractions to serious crimes and not all offences are treated equally. Minor convictions may be spent or removed from your record after a certain period of good behaviour, typically ten years for adults and five for juveniles, under the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission guidelines.

Impact of a Criminal Record on Financial Services

Having a criminal record can, unfortunately, limit access to certain financial services, including loans and insurance. The banking and finance sector often exercises caution when dealing with customers who have a history of legal transgressions, primarily due to risk assessments that categorise such individuals as high-risk borrowers. This is not to say that obtaining a mortgage is impossible, but it does underscore the importance of understanding how your background may be scrutinised during the application process.

Mortgage Application Process in Australia

The process of applying for a mortgage involves several steps, starting from the initial application to the final approval. Key stages include the assessment of financial stability, credit history, income, employment, and potentially, a background check. While not all lenders require a background check, those that do may use this information to gauge the risk associated with lending.

Lender's Assessment Criteria

Lenders primarily assess mortgage applications based on financial criteria, including credit score, employment history, income, and the applicant's ability to repay the loan. However, if a criminal record comes to light during the application process, its impact will largely depend on the nature of the offence, how much time has elapsed since, and any evidence of rehabilitation. For instance, financial crimes or fraud will likely be viewed more unfavourably than a drink driving offence due to their direct relevance to financial trustworthiness.

Real-life Scenarios and Considerations

The effect of a criminal record on mortgage approval varies significantly from case to case. Factors such as the seriousness of the offence, the length of time since the conviction, and whether the individual has demonstrated rehabilitation play crucial roles. For example, a decade-old minor offence with clear evidence of rehabilitation may have minimal impact, whereas a recent conviction related to financial dishonesty could be a significant hurdle.

Tips for Applying for a Mortgage with a Criminal Record

Honesty Is the Best Policy

Many lenders will not ask any questions about your criminal background. However, if they do, be upfront as concealing this information can lead to more significant issues down the line.

Documentation and Evidence

Prepare to provide documentation regarding your criminal record, along with any evidence of rehabilitation, stable employment, and financial responsibility.

Seek Professional Advice

Consulting with a legal advisor or a top mortgage broker who has experience with applications involving a criminal record can offer tailored advice and increase your chances of approval.

Consider Alternative Lenders

Some lenders and non-traditional financial institutions may be more willing to work with individuals who have criminal records, especially if other aspects of their application are strong. Using a mortgage broker can help you find these particular lenders.

Legal Protections and Rights

Australia has laws in place to protect individuals from discrimination, including those with a criminal record, provided the record does not relate directly to the nature of the job or service being sought. In the context of mortgage applications, this means that lenders must consider each application on its merits and cannot reject an application solely on the basis of a criminal record unless it directly impacts the applicant's ability to fulfil the mortgage obligations.


Applying for a home loan with a criminal record in Australia presents its own set of challenges. However, it's not an insurmountable hurdle. The key lies in understanding how your criminal record may be perceived and taking proactive steps to mitigate its impact. By being honest, gathering supporting documentation, seeking professional advice, and exploring all available options, individuals with a criminal record can increase their chances of securing a mortgage. Remember, every lender has different criteria, and a rejection from one does not mean the end of the road. With perseverance and the right approach, the dream of homeownership remains within reach.

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