A Swedish lesbian couple who tried to get a mortgage say they were shocked to be told by a bank clerk that they should reconsider their relationship and live apart.

Sara Evaldsson, 29, and Maria Engström, 31, decided to move in together after living 100 miles apart and found a two-bedroom property in Västerås.

The couple believed they had got a bargain price for the new home and were confident of securing a mortgage, as both were in employment and had good credit ratings.

Ms Engström told English-language newspaper The Local that a female clerk at Swedbank told them that the 490,000 kronor (£43,000) loan they wanted to borrow was “a lot of money” and insisted that a ten per cent deposit would be necessary.

She said that when she and Ms Evaldsson questioned the decision, the clerk replied: “You should reconsider your personal situation and continue to live in different places.”

The couple, who said they were “shocked” by the clerk’s remark, have reported her to Sweden’s Discrimination Ombudsman.

They then obtained a mortgage from rival bank Nordea and since renovating the apartment, have had it valued at 800,000 kronor.

Anna Sundblad, Swedbank’s head of press relations, told The Local that the bank would work with the Discrimination Ombudsman to investigate the incident.

She said: “We take these kinds of incidents very seriously. We have a clear policy that we never discriminate on the grounds of religion, gender or sexual orientation. We also aim to set a good example in questions like this – we sponsor the Stockholm Pride festival for instance.”