Rental Exchange has just made things very interesting!
I remember having a conversation a few years ago with a friend I used to live with.
I was complaining how though I had no debt, no dependants, and always paid my rent on time, I didn’t have a hope in hell in getting a mortgage as I had no credit history.
Santander later went on to confirm this for me. Yet somebody who had previously been in debt, or even still had some outstanding debt, would stand a better chance than me.
I argued that surely my rental record should be taken into account.
Generation Rent. People born in the 1980s who have no hope of getting on the property ladder.
If I’d always paid my rent on time since leaving home, never once been in arrears, my rents averaged £700 over those years, and I wanted a mortgage with repayments of £400, why would anyone come to the conclusion that I wouldn’t be a safe bet?
It seemed at the time I was destined for a life part of Generation Rent.
I am happy to say things are changing. A new free scheme has been launched that millions of private renters can use to make paying rent boost their credit rating.
The Rental Exchange scheme will record your rental payments and send them to Experian – one of the Uk’s largest credit reference agencies.
I’ll explain how it works.
Rental Exchange: What is it, and how does it work?
The Rental Exchange scheme was recently launched in March 2016 to allow private rental tenants to improve their credit rating by just paying their bills on time every month.
It works like this:
- You set up your rent payment to go to a third party called Credit Ladder
- Credit Ladder then passes your payment on to your landlord, and reports the payment to Experian whether you’ve made the payment on time or not
- Experian will then update your credit file
If, like me, you never miss a rent payment and always pay it on time, this could be a fantastic way to improve your credit score and prove to potential lender that you are reliable payer.
Obviously if you miss a payment, it will have a negative impact on your score so you must make sure you continue to pay on time.
There around 5.4 million UK households renting.
Experian recently conducted a study with a major letting agents and it found a whopping 98% of us pay our rent on time – and according to a survey they conducted last year, 76% of those people renting wanted it to appear on their credit files – who wouldn’t?
Who qualifies for Rental Exchange?
Anybody who is a private tenant in the Uk is eligible to sign up, you must seek permission from your landlord first.
Signing up is completely optional and free, for both you and your landlord.
Be aware that there is always a risk your landlord or letting agent could try and charge you an administration fee for the service.
Experian says that none of the letting agents they have spoken to plan to charge for the service, but with thousands of landlords out there it is always worth double-checking.
Is Rental Exchange Worth It?
If your dream one day is to own your own home, it is something I would certainly recommend signing up to.
I have had the conversation with my landlord and he thinks it’s a great idea so I’ll be applying over the weekend.
A good credit rating is key to being accepted for the right mortgage.If you are making payments on time, it’s something that you would want reflecting in your credit file.
I have recommended products such as Creditbuilder™ and other credit building tips previously and there is no doubt Rental Exchange will be a useful addition.
Improving your credit history, helps to improve your score, therefore bills paid on time recorded on your credit file will help to boost your credit score.
The scheme is perfect for somebody with limited credit history like students and young people, or people like me who just never had any bills in their name for years, and never applied for credit.
It is a great way to show you are responsible and you pay your bills on time.
How Will Rental Exchange Affect My Credit File?
Your credit rating is extremely important and everyone should have an interest in improving or maintaining it. Lenders try to predict your future by checking your credit history.
This is not easy if you have none. Rental Exchange is aimed at boosting your credit rating.
If a lender checks your file and it includes history of payments made on time , you appear a much more attractive bet meaning you have a far greater chance of acceptance.
Experian will record your rent payments under the Rental Exchange scheme, just as they would with credit card payments, loans and utility bills.
As it stands, only Experian will be involved to start with, CallCredit and Equifax are looking to follow suit in the future as they recognise the benefit.
Experian do not plan to show any rental payments on our credit files until the end of 2016, but at that point they would back date them to when you first signed up.
Anyone like myself who are saving up for a mortgage deposit simply cannot afford to miss out on this.
How will lenders see it?
Most lenders do not include renting in their scoring yet, so it will take until the end of 2016 before you will see a difference on your credit file.
However, stability is one of the biggest factors in your credit score, as Experian start tro factor in rent payments, expect the others to get involved soon.
How Do I Get Involved?
Speak to your landlord or letting agent
You will have to gain consent from your landlord or letting agent to pay your rent via Credit Ladder.
They would be formally notified once you have applied, but it is always good manners to seek permission first.
Register with Credit Ladder
Sign yourself up by going to the Credit Ladder website – fill in the online registration form with your own details plus those of who you pay your rent to.
Credit Ladder will confirm with your landlord or letting agent that they’re happy for you to make your payments via the scheme.
Set up a standing order to Credit Ladder
Set up a standing order to pay Credit Ladder on the day you pay your rent, they will forward to your landlord or letting agent on the same day and then report it to Experian to show the payment was received on time.
What if my rent increases?
If your rent increases, you would need to contact Credit Ladder and adjust the payment amount. They, inturn, will contact your landlord or letting agent to confirm the increase.
When your tenancy comes to an end you should cancel your standing order with the bank and get in touch with Credit Ladder to inform them.
So what you waiting for? If you’re renting get registered ASAP. I will be!
He is also a contributor to Clear Debt, ICOUNT Money and M1 Debt Advice blogs discussing all things personal finance.