Drinking habits and pet food spending: Have tough new mortgage tests 'gone too far'?

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Pet food spending is reportedly included on some lenders' mortgage assessments. Credit: PA

Once you've found the house of your dreams (or at least the one that will do for now) the next hurdle for most people is securing a mortgage.

Rising house prices mean buyers need to borrow more - yet rules being introduced this weekend will make it even harder to convince a lender to hand over the cash.

The Financial Conduct Authority, the regulator, is insisting that lenders take responsibility for making sure borrowers can afford the mortgages they take out - even as interest rates rise over the next five years.

Most lenders have already introduced the extra checks and, as anyone who has bought a house recently can attest, they are tough.

It begins with much more rigorous requirements to prove income; questionnaires about yourlifestyle and spending; plus "stress tests" which show how much your repayments would be if the Bank of England put up interest rates.

The questionnaires have been described by some as "intrusive" - lenders have asked details of applicants' drinking habits, plans to have children and even - reportedly - pet food spending.

Today, Martin Wheatley, chief executive of the FCA, told ITV News he thinks some of those checks have "gone a bit too far" - although he insists the principle of making sure borrowers can afford the mortgage they want is sensible.

The aims are simple: to prevent the reckless lending before the financial crisis (indeed, which contributed to the crisis).

Yet ITV News has learned of borrowers who feel they are losing out - people like Natalia whose search for a mortgage took three months and three lenders before finally finding one earlier this month.

The more rigorous checks already being introduced meant lenders were far more cautious than they used to be.

That dream house could remain just a dream.