It’s no coincidence that as people struggle to buy, significant growth is seen in the private rental sector, where rent is often higher than notional mortgage payments. And policy to protect renters and support landlords has not kept pace. We’ve recognised the need to help stimulate change to improve standards and opportunities for renters. And where possible to support our members in making the transition into home ownership.


This area of our website offers information about some of the things we do as a responsible business. For more practical information, visit our mortgage pages.

What's on this page

Giving first time buyers the support they need

First time buyers are finding it particularly hard to find a way on to the housing ladder. First time buyers' activity has largely recovered from the financial downturn of 2007. However, it remains well below its peak in 2000 when 600,000 people became homeowners for the first time (figures taken from (opens in a new window)). The challenges facing first time buyers are well understood. The Building Society Association’s monthly Property Tracker consistently scores the most significant factors as:

  • raising a deposit, and
  • access to mortgage finance.

In April 2021 we launched Helping Hand in response to the challenge of access to mortgage finance many buyers face. Helping Hand is a new first time buyer proposition offering enhanced affordability for those taking longer term fixed rate products, of at least 5 years. We lend at a higher income multiple and lower stress rate for eligible buyers, and ensure we continue to lend responsibly.

Keeping deposits low

Before the coronavirus pandemic, access to a mortgage of up to 95% Loan to Value (LTV) was fairly common in the market. This meant a deposit of only 5% was needed to take that all important first step on the property ladder. By the height of lockdown, this had changed to a minimum 15% deposit. While we quickly took action that reflected the difficulties in valuing properties during lockdown and to avoid a skew in our application profile following these competitor changes, we were the first major lender to return to 90% LTV — exclusively for first time buyers. We have subsequently expanded access to include all house purchase applications.

Managing credit risk fairly

We're aware that the pandemic continues to change the landscape. House price uncertainty and potential rising unemployment all lead to additional credit risks. This means that we continued to assess the situation to protect our members and our Society through uncertain times. 

To support our quick return to 90% LTV lending, we added a greater human element to our processes, to reflect the uncertainty that the pandemic created. Our Credit Risk team reviewed a higher proportion of applicants, including checking bank statements and assessing self-employed applicants on an individual basis to review their income in an ethical way.

“I'm incredibly proud of what we've achieved with the 90% LTV journey. Housing is critical to people across the country. Our teams have worked collaboratively and quickly, sometimes against the odds, to deliver a 90% LTV product that's helped thousands of people realise the dream of moving into their first homes.”

Henry Jordan, Director of Mortgages

Mortgage and rental holidays

Nationwide was one of the first lenders to offer mortgage holidays during the pandemic. The Government noted that our response was ‘market-leading’.

Mortgage holidays were just one part of our broader Home Support Package. We made pledges offering flexibility and home security to both owner-occupiers and buy-to-let mortgage holders. This was with a view to enabling rent holidays for tenants, where necessary.

Championing renters rights

Nationwide continues to be a force for positive change in the private rental sector, supporting vulnerable customers. Our campaigning work, alongside our partners in the sector, has seen:

  • The Government agree to the abolition of Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions
    This reform will ensure that renters are protected against eviction unless the landlord has a legitimate reason to do so.
  • Rules abolished which allowed private landlords to refuse to let to those in receipt of housing benefits
    Otherwise known as ‘no DSS’ restrictions. Other mortgage lenders have followed our lead by removing clauses from buy to let mortgages that have encouraged this practice.

Supporting landlords to meet their responsibilities

Through supporting landlords to navigate their responsibilities, we are working towards bridging the relationship between landlords and renters. We've developed a free, educational platform, Landlord Lifeguard (opens in a new window), offering landlords:

  • help to understand their rights and responsibilities
  • resources and
  • industry insights.

We are further developing a suite of services designed to support landlords in managing their obligations.

Guidance for renters

We've seen a large uptake in renter-focused guidance through our Happy Homes Project (opens in a new window).

We initially established the project to support vulnerable communities through the coronavirus pandemic. We’re providing guidance for 4 key areas of life: home, finance, well-being and work. Our users are from a wide demographic: culturally, financially and their position in the housing market.

We plan to continue providing direct support to renters in our future propositions.  We’ll use learnings from our extensive research with renters to provide:

  • support to navigate the complexities of the private rental sector
  • practical tools to understand their rights and responsibilities
  • broader support to manage and understand their finances.

This is just the beginning of a range of services providing greater value to renters and younger audiences. Support that we hope will help them achieve their ambitions, including home ownership.

Lending for social housing

Social housing is important for many. Often offering an affordable, secure, longer-term tenancy.

We're proud to support providers of affordable housing throughout the UK and have been lending to the social housing sector for over 60 years. We lend to housing associations ranging from small almshouses to large national providers. With approximately £5.9 billion of committed lending, we’re one of the key lenders to social housing providers in the UK. 

Our support for the sector is a strong fit with our social purpose. The homes we’re helping to finance equate to housing a population the same size as Manchester.

Our relationship managers are experienced in the social housing sector, which means our customers benefit from our strong sector knowledge and dedicated customer service. We maintain regular dialogue with the Social Housing Regulator and other key sector stakeholders to contribute on social housing issues and policy. Read more about how we support the Housing and Project Finance sectors (opens in a new window).