Recent estimates reckon that in the UK, at least half of all adults have some form of debt. This can vary from a simple overdraft through to mortgage debts, from small amounts to large. That being said, at the end of the day, it is still all debt that we owe, and we should take the initiative and pay it off. 

If you’re having financial difficulties, there are all sorts of different things out there that might help you relieve the debt and take the pressure off a bit. One of these initiatives is called a debt relief order. We’ll take a look at what debt relief orders are, and what happens to a debt relief order after 6 years.

What is a debt relief order?

A debt relief order, or DRO for short, is an initiative available to help you deal with your debts. It’s effectively a form of insolvency that can help you write off any debts you might have that you are unable to settle in a reasonable amount of time.

Debt relief orders usually last for a year, and at the end of this period, your debts are usually written off. Sounds pretty useful, doesn’t it? Well, there are quite a few bits and pieces of legislation that surround debt relief orders.

How can you get a debt relief order?

There are some quite strict rules around whether or not you can get a debt relief order approved. This is because it’s quite a serious piece of legislation and you will still feel the effects of a debt relief order after 6 years. For more information on a debt relief order, you can head over to the GOV.UK site, which has all you need to know about debt relief orders.

If you want to get a DRO, you need to make sure you meet the following criteria:

  • You’re unable to pay your debts
  • It’s been at least 6 years since your last DRO
  • You have debts that do not exceed £20,000
  • You don’t have more than £50 at the end of each month after your other expenses
  • Savings and assets you have don’t add up to more than £1,000
  • You don’t own your own home outright
  • Any vehicle you might own isn’t worth £1,000 or more

If you don’t meet any of these criteria, your application for a debt relief order might not be accepted. It will last for 12 months, and you should be free from the debts that are listed in it – excluding any debts you might have obtained by fraud. 

What debts can be included on a debt relief order?

Not all debts can be covered by a debt relief order. The main ones that are excluded are debts that might involve an agreement with a bailiff, for instance, or any fines, student loans, TV licence fees or any debts secured against an asset you own. 

The debts that are covered by a DRO include the following:

  • Credit card debts
  • Buy now, pay later scheme debts
  • Bills for services (such as veterinarian or solicitors bills)
  • Utility and telephone bills
  • Council and income tax

What happens at the end of a debt relief order?

You won’t receive any official notice or communication telling you that the DRO period has ended. If you can’t remember when your debt relief order was due to end, you can check up on your entry on the Insolvency Service register.

How will a DRO impact me in the long run?

A direct relief order might seem like a good way of solving your debt problems. It’s worth noting what happens to a debt relief order after 6 years, however. A DRO will end up impacting your credit record for this whole six years, and will also affect any future credit applications you might want to make

Credit reports look back over the past 6 years of your borrowing history, but if you have taken out a debt relief order, after 6 years it will still be on your record. This will indicate to any future creditors that you have struggled to keep up repayments in the past. 

It’s worth bearing this in mind, as the effects that a debt relief order after 6 years can be quite detrimental. You may struggle to open a new bank account because of your debt relief order after 6 years, for instance. 

You may have to manually send the credit reference agencies a copy of an official document that states your debt relief order has ended as occasionally they don’t automatically update your file regarding your debt relief order after 6 years.

FAQs

So that’s a very quick guide to what happens to your debt relief order after 6 years. Here, we’ll answer a few of the more frequently asked questions about debt relief orders, and what happens to your debt relief order after 6 years.

Do I have to pay for a debt relief order?

Yes. A DRO will cost £90, and you will have to pay the fee directly to the Insolvency Service. You won’t be able to submit your application until the fee is completely paid.

Can I get credit whilst the debt relief order is still active?

You are not allowed to get credit for £500 or more without specifically telling the lender that you currently have a debt relief order active. The lender may actually change their mind about offering you any credit when they find out about your DRO.

Am I able to move house while my debt relief order is active?

You may find it quite difficult to get a new home while you’ve got a DRO. Many landlords and letting agents will insist on credit checks when you apply for a tenancy, and having a debt relief order on your record may limit your options, or even lead them to charge you higher fees.

Where can I get more advice about debt relief orders?

It can be confusing to know what to do and where to turn to. Luckily there are many different charities and services available who can offer you free and confidential financial advice, including advice about debt relief orders and what might happen to you and your debt relief order after 6 years. These include the following:

About the author

Scott Nelson

Scott Nelson is a financial services expert, with over 10 years’ experience in the industry, including 6 years in FCA regulated companies. Read more
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