Social housing tenants sometimes struggle to get affordable loans, a mortgage and credit cards or to open bank accounts. Often this is because they do not have a credit history. If you want to buy something on credit, then it helps considerably if you have a good credit history (a track record of paying off credit agreements). Companies use credit history to assess your creditworthiness before making a lending decision.
Having a good credit history also helps to provide proof of your identity, and where you live and have lived before. This can help you access a range of goods and services online, including getting the best deals on mobile phones, TV and broadband packages and car insurance.
Home-owners with a mortgage have an advantage as their mortgage payment history can count towards their credit history and Ipswich Borough Council strongly believes that your rent payment history should be used in the same way to help you access more affordable credit.
Ipswich Borough Council has teamed up with Big Issue Invest, part of the well-known Big Issue Group, and Experian to take part in the Rental Exchange. The Rental Exchange is a way to strengthen your credit report without you needing to take on new credit. The scheme enables us to share details about the rent you pay with Experian on a monthly basis. This is then included in your credit report, meaning you will then be recognised for paying your rent on time.
The scheme allows tenants with a history of little or no credit, to build a credit score.
Being able to prove your identity and show a track record of paying your rent, will open up new channels and services, giving fairer access to services such as: bank accounts, credit cards, loans, online shopping, and better gas and electricity rates.
You don’t need to do anything. We will share your tenancy information with Experian, including your track record for paying your rent and service charges to us. This could make it easier for you to apply for credit or bank accounts in the future.
We understand that in some circumstances there may be rent arrears. Where this is the case we will work with you to address it. Paying your rent on time could help you to access cheaper products and services in the future.
Independent research among social tenants shows that there is wide support for this partnership. Many social landlords are going to share information with Experian for the benefit of their tenants.
Both Ipswich Borough Council and Experian will make sure that your information is treated in accordance with UK Data Protection law, so you can have peace of mind that it will be kept secure and confidential. It will only be made available to a company or organisation if your tenancy information is relevant and you have agreed to them doing a check against your credit file, or where it is strictly necessary for them to check information about your tenancy.
There is a public interest in the sharing of data into Rental Exchange for these purposes, which forms our legal ground for the sharing of this data into the Rental Exchange. Landlords who share data into Rental Exchange will have a legitimate interest in being able to make use of this data to support better informed tenancy decisions.
You can access independent and impartial advice on how to improve your credit history at www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk. You can get a copy of your Statutory Credit Report for £2 by visiting www.experian.co.uk/consumer/statutory-report.html