Rent should count towards credit ratings | Letters

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How many people realise that their rental payment history could help them access more affordable credit, asks the Big Issue founder John Bird

BrightHouse say they offer choice to those excluded from mainstream credit (At last, it’s payback time for BrightHouse, 28 October). “As long as it’s affordable and people are making an informed decision they should be allowed to choose how to spend their money.” But there’s a problem. BrightHouse isn’t affordable. £600 laptops can total £2,287. Cookers, £1,133. TVs, over £1,170. We’re told the average rent-to-own customer is a young, single, renting mother reliant upon (at least some) benefits. I wonder how many of those “rent-to-owners” realise the power of the data they’re sitting on. How many realise that their rental payment history could help them access more affordable credit?

None of them – unless they’re part of the Big Issue “rental exchange” scheme – because rent isn’t recorded like mortgage payments. Renters can’t use the best asset they have, their rent history, to help improve their credit score, get digitally authenticated and enter the marketplace. Whether it’s credit for a mortgage or a mobile, your rent should count for something. BrightHouse will repay £14.8m to 250,000 customers after the FCA found it hadn’t been a “responsible lender”. We need to go further. My creditworthiness assessment bill will ensure, via the clout of the FCA, that every lender takes rental history into account when assessing creditworthiness. Not to dish out problem debt. To make assessments fairer.

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view The Guardian: Money
#property
#benefits
#rating agencies
#renting property
#social exclusion
#magazines
#poverty
#borrowing debt
#society
#the big issue