An IVA seems like a very attractive option for most people in debt but not everyone who applies for it is able to get it.
While it’s true that every IVA is unique and depends on your situation as well as your creditors, the minimum IVA requirements remain the same for all IVAs.
Before you even start considering an IVA for yourself, you should be aware of the requirements and criteria in order to ensure you’re not wasting your time.
The minimum IVA requirements are outlined clearly in the Straightforward Consumer IVA Protocol.
How can I Tell if I Qualify for an IVA or not?
If you’re in debt, the last thing you want to do is invest your time, energy and money into applying for an IVA only to be told you don’t meet the requirements. Hence, it’s a good idea to go over what the criteria are and judge whether you should even expend energy in applying for an IVA or not.
Listed below are the minimum requirements that you are expected to have in order to even stand a chance for your IVA to be accepted.
Minimum IVA Requirements
- A minimum debt level of £5000. Though this requirement is not set in stone, it’s very likely that your IVA will be rejected if you have a debt level lower than this. Not to mention that an IVA might not even be worth it for you if your debt level is lower than £5000 considering the IVA fees and additional expenses.
- You must owe at least 3 debts to at least 2 separate creditors.
- You must have a steady and regular income. Your income must also not be solely benefits-based.
- Your IVA should offer your creditors a higher return than if you had gone for bankruptcy.
- You must be a resident of England, Wales or Northern Ireland.
Please note that these are the minimum requirements. They will only help you get your foot in the door; Once you’re inside, you’ll have to sit down with your insolvency practitioner to devise the monthly repayments for your Creditors.
Creditors’ Meeting IVA Requirements
Once you’ve found an insolvency practitioner, you’ll have to send a legal notice to your creditors informing them that you’re applying for an IVA.
The statutory period between you applying for your IVA and the creditors’ meeting is a minimum of 14 days and a maximum of 28 days. This is to help them be prepared to cast your vote.
The requirements for the creditors’ meeting are by far the most subjective part of your IVA. Every case is unique so you will have to assess your situation with your insolvency practitioner thoroughly. Try to reach a compromise regarding your monthly repayments as well as your IVA time frame. The important thing is to try and strike a balance in order to reach a monthly amount that would be affordable to you as well as acceptable to your creditors.
Post-Creditors’ Meeting IVA Requirements
Once your proposal has been accepted by your creditors, your IVA will start and you will be expected to make the agreed monthly repayments regularly. Obviously, paying the agreed-upon amount every month is a requirement but in addition to that, there are some requirements that you’ll have to abide by over the course of your IVA:
- There has to be a review of your financial circumstances each year. Depending on your circumstances, your monthly repayments may be increased.
- You are legally obligated to declare any windfall or extra income that you might receive. A windfall is defined as any unexpected sum of money that might come your way. An example of this may be winning a lottery or inheriting money from a relative. Note that most creditors will have a windfall clause in the IVA which requires you to hand over 100% of your windfall amount to your creditors. If you hide this amount and are caught, your IVA will be terminated and legal action may be taken against you.
- Any significant change in your circumstances must be reported to your insolvency practitioner. Some examples of this may be a change in your employment or a change of address.
- If you are a homeowner, you will be required to explore equity release if you have sufficient equity at the end of your fourth year.
Please ensure that you meet all these expectations consistently throughout your IVA as failure to meet them will almost certainly result in your IVA being terminated.
What is an IVA Protocol?
An IVA Protocol is a standard code of practice that all insolvency practitioners, creditors and debtors must adhere to. These standards are put in place to ensure that all IVAs are straightforward and fair to all parties involved.
It was developed after extensive research and collaboration between debtors, lenders, insolvency practitioners as well as regulatory bodies. It aims to not only increase trust between all the parties involved in an IVA but also to ensure that the process is as efficient as possible. You can access the IVA protocol and other relevant documents any time you want at the Insolvency Service’s website.
The IVA protocol details the code of conduct during an IVA and it also sets out a standard approach when it comes to:
- The content of the initial proposal
- The way in which the income and expenses of the debtor are assessed
- How home equity is dealt with
- The standard terms and conditions of all IVAs
It is also the document which details all of the requirements that you must have in order to be qualified for an IVA in the first place.
It’s important to note that this protocol applies only to ‘straightforward consumer-based’ IVAs. If your IVA is not one, you don’t necessarily need to uphold the standards of the protocol.
In certain special cases, you can also choose not to use the protocol or to only use parts of it. However, you will have to explicitly declare how and why you’re not using it. As you can probably imagine, the more changes you make, the more questions it will raise. It’s definitely possible to get your IVA approved by your creditors without sticking to the IVA protocol. However, it’s generally quite unlikely and definitely not recommended.
If you’re confused about any terms or guidelines outlined in the IVA protocol, you can seek clarification or advice from either your IP or an independent debt charity such as Payplan.
IVAs are a great solution if you do your research and ensure you meet its requirements. However, if you rush into it only to find you don’t meet them, you may end up in a worse spot than where you were before.
Hence, research is key. Assess your situation thoroughly before applying for an IVA in order to ensure you get the best possible value out of it.