I’ve been sent another request for advice from a reader. I am not a debt advisor, nor am I legally qualified, so I’ll just put this out there:
‘In 2011 I graduated from university and to cut a long story short the shock of leaving university, struggling to find a job and being with the wrong person resulted in me failing to pay credit cards, phone bills and water bills which resulted in a CCJ and generally getting my finances in a real mess.
Roll on two and a half years I have secured a great job, met the love of my life and made real progress to becoming debt free (not a single default since May 2011) and I paid the CCJ off within three months of it being issued.
We are currently living in a privately rented house share however in the near future we would like to move into a small rented home for two. Just one problem I am petrified of approaching letting agents which require a credit check. I suppose what I am asking is will my poor finances really prevent us from renting - I have always paid my rent on time and all of my other bills have been paid on time for the past two years? How should I approach letting agents? Are there any really good ways of finding a private landlord?
You advice would be invaluable!’
The answer is – yes, it will cause you problems. Before you say it – ‘wants to move’ isn’t whimsical, but part of exercising the right to family life, and yes – it is a right. This problem is worsened by letting agents, who now farm out ‘credit checking’ to pricy outsourcing companies, so that some people in my correspondent’s situation don’t stand a chance. Remember, life is messy, and people make mistakes. This doesn’t mean they should forever be refused one of life’s essentials – that is, an appropriate home.
I’ve said it before hereabouts, but bankruptcy is surprisingly widespread. There are times when people simply can’t cope with what life is throwing their way, and they buckle. Must they be punished forever, and should they be punished at all? Do not judge – anyone could find themselves in this situation.
This person has paid off their debts – debts which can be incurred by anyone. What’s more, there are often two sides to any story – what seems like tenants doing a runner could be aggressive owners harassing vulnerable tenants into quitting.
Young people do some daft stuff, and hopefully they learn. Or people become ill, or disabled. Here however, the debt is paid. Remember that in times of economic crash, unemployment and cuts, this situation will become ever more common.
So do I have any advice? Sort of… First of all – try making your own ad, maybe on the can of worms that is Gumtree, openly and honestly stating your circumstances. There might be one humane, realistic landlord who thinks – ‘…there but for fate walk I.’ Indeed – there but for fate tread most of us.
Mindful of the low level of checks rentiers must endure before they let out homes, I’d suggest finding a guarantor, or – and I hate this - paying six months upfront, if the cash is available. Do not judge – anyone could find themselves in this situation. So, people - any more constructive advice, or ideas?
(NB – trolls will be deleted.)