Can My Debts Be Written Off?
Updated: Nov 27, 2020
This is one of the most common questions financial advisors, creditors and debt solution providers are asked, and there’s no definitive answer to it, as really it depends on the debt and your circumstances at the time.
It goes without saying that the best way to ‘write off’ your debts is to pay back what you owe, but we know that life isn’t always that simple, and sometimes debts can become difficult to manage, hence why debt solution providers such as ourselves exist. However, there are other ways in which your debts can be written off.
One of the ways in which a debt can be wiped clear is as a result of being statute barred, which happens if there has been no communication between the creditor and yourself for a period of six years. However, a debt can only be statute barred if:
The creditor hasn’t taken legal action against you in the last six years.
You haven’t made a payment against the debt in the last six years.
You have admitted to the creditor that you owe money in the last six years.
If you live in Scotland, the rules are slightly different, with debts becoming barred after five years instead of six, under the Prescription and Limitation (Scotland) Act 1973.
If a creditor chases you for a payment after the six year period has elapsed, you can report them to the Financial Conduct Authority and/or Financial Ombudsman for harassment.
However, the possibility of a debt being statute barred after six years does not mean that you should bury your head in the sand and ignore your financial problems!
There are other ways of either fully or partially writing off your debts.
One of these ways is through a Debt Relief Order, and is one of the most common solutions we match our customers with. You can only apply for a DRO if you owe less than £20,000, have little disposable income, have no assets such as a car worth more than £1,000, and do not own your own home.
As a result of your Debt Relief Order, there are several restrictions which you are placed under, which include:
You cannot borrow more than £500 without telling the lender about your DRO.
Act as the Director of a business.
Create, manage or promote a business without the permission of the court.
Manage a business without telling business partners or associates about your DRO.
Open a bank account, including current accounts, and savings accounts, without informing them about your DRO.
These restrictions usually last for a minimum of 12 months, however they can be extended under some circumstances.
Don’t forget that while you have a DRO, you will still have to pay your standard household bills, including your rent, as well as student loans and any fines incurred, for example speeding tickets. If your finances improve, then your DRO can be cancelled, but it can also be stopped if you fail to cooperate with the Official Receiver who issues it.
If you get a new debt while in a DRO, you may be forced to file for bankruptcy.
The DRO is added to the Individual Insolvency Register, but is removed three months after it ends, but will stay on your credit record for 6 years.
One final option of how to write off your debt is to directly appeal to your creditors if you are struggling to pay. Many will offer payment holidays in difficult circumstances, and as long as you regularly liaise with them and keep them informed of your situation, will be sympathetic and understanding.