New legislation designed to force lenders to take rent and council tax payments into account when assessing tenants for mortgages has begun its journey through the House of Commons, sponsored by former government minister and MP Justine Greening.
Introduced into parliament in June last year by Big Issue founder Lord Bird, it is now likely to get Royal Assent and become law next year; its passage through the Lords was unopposed and supported enthusiastically by all parties.
“Thanks to Justine Greening plus [other] MPs from every party for sponsoring the Creditworthiness Assessment Bill in the House of Commons – it’s an historic moment in our campaign,” Lord Bird said.
The bill will force a subtle but important change within the lending industry. Currently, credit reference agencies and lenders can opt to factor a borrower’s rental payment record into their lending decision, but it’s not an approach adopted uniformly.
To date take-up of the ideas has been relatively slow – only Experian adds tenant rent payment records to people’s credit files while its two competing reference agencies do not.
When the Creditworthiness Assessment Bill does become law, lenders will be compelled by the Financial Conduct Authority to include rent and council tax payment records into lending decisions.
Lord Bird’s plans go further than helping Generation Rent, though. His campaign has also focussed on the problems faced by those on low incomes who, because they struggle to prove their creditworthiness, get caught in a spiral of high-interest borrowing and debt.
The long-time homelessness campaigner’s initiative is on top of recent government action on creditworthiness. The HM Treasury recently gave three fintech startups £2 million between them to develop platforms to help tenants get on the property ladder. These were Bud, RentalStep and CreditLadder.