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1 Dealing with Debt

Download Dealing with Debt (PDF File, 200kb)

1. Introduction

2. Rent or mortgage payment problems

3. Council Tax bill problems

4. Hire Purchase (HP) problems

5. Gas, electricity and phone bills

6. Water bills

7. Loan and credit problems

Loans that aren't secured on your home (like a mortgage would be, for example), overdrafts, credit cards and mail order agreements are often known as 'non-priority' debts. You generally have to deal with these debts by coming to an arrangement with the creditor to pay an amount you can afford. If you can't come to an affordable arrangement, the creditor may claim their money through the court. The court can then order you to make payments at a rate you can afford, after looking at your income and outgoings (expenses). As long as you can keep up with payments as ordered by the court, the creditor cannot take enforcement action (such as using bailiffs) against you.

Time Order
One way you can deal with debts is by getting a 'time order'. You can ask the court for a time order if you have a regulated credit agreement and the creditor has sent you a default notice (a formal warning that you have missed payments). A time order means the court can reduce or even stop the interest that is mounting up on the money you owe, and reduce the payments to a level you can afford.

But you have to show the court that you have real difficulty making the original payments. You may also have to show that you would be able to pay the full instalments again later.

If you get a time order, the missed payments will still be listed on your credit reference file, so you may have trouble getting credit in the future.

If you want to apply for a time order, you must first write to the creditor explaining how much you think you can afford to pay and over what period. If the creditor refuses your offer, you can apply to the county court for the time order, and it will decide whether your offer is reasonable.

Alternatively, you can simply go ahead and pay the creditor what you've offered. If it doesn't think that you're paying enough, it has the option of making a claim through the courts. You can apply for a time order at this point. An advantage of this route is that you don't have to pay the court fee.

8. What creditors can do to get their money

9. Going to court

10. Dealing with many debts

11. Dealing with bailiffs

12. Other legal protection if you are in debt

13. When you can be sent to prison for your debts

14. Terms used when dealing with debt

15. Further help

16. About this leaflet

This leaflet is published by the Gurkha Free Legal Advice (LSC). It was written in association with Birmingham Settlement.

The leaflets are regularly updated but the law may have changed since they were printed so the information in them may be incorrect or out of date.

Leaflet Version: December 2007