Article by Sam Griffin - 20th April 2021

Does My Partner's Debt Affect Me?

Having a partner can be a major benefit for your finances, especially when it comes to applying for a mortgage. It’s often the case that doubling your income can double your borrowing power, giving you access to mortgages that would be out of reach as a single person.

But what happens when your partner’s carrying debt or a damaged credit history? In that case, could having a partner actually make things more difficult for you?

Am I responsible for my partner’s debt?

The only debts you are responsible for are those in your name, so any debts accrued by your partner will solely be theirs. As such, you aren’t responsible for your partner’s debt.

Also in the UK, you don’t inherit debt from partners, spouses, or family members. Any outstanding debts left behind are required to be paid, as much as possible, by their assets though.

A notable exception would be for joint accounts, where you are both named on the account, meaning you both take responsibility for the agreement and any debt.

Another exception is where you act as a guarantor for your partner. In this case, you are taking on responsibility for their debt and will be expected to make payments on their behalf or face charges, a damaged Credit Rating, or even court action should the worst happen.

In general though, a creditor won’t chase you for outstanding debt accrued by your partner if they are solely responsible for it.

Does my partner’s credit score affect mine?

Your Credit Score reflects the health of your Credit Report and is not affected by other people. The main influences on your Credit Score are your credit agreements and your repayment history, in addition to other factors such as your court records and Electoral Roll listing. Your Credit Score only considers your information as it appears on your Credit Report, and no one else’s.

With that out of the way, it’s important to stress that your partner can still affect your creditworthiness, even if they can’t affect your Credit Score, by being recorded as a Financial Association. This is an example of your Credit Score not showing you the full picture, and why it’s always best to check the data on your Credit Report for yourself.

What is a Financial Association?

We’ve written about Financial Associations before, but in short, a Financial Association is another individual you’ve had, or have, a financial link with. Often these will be partners, but even other family members and flatmates can appear as Financial Associations.

A Financial Association entry on your Credit Report will detail the associate’s name, show which Credit Reference Agencies are holding the record, and which lender created it in the first instance.

It’s important to understand who’s listed as a Financial Association on your Credit Report because, while they’re recorded, any lenders that you apply with will be able to assess their full Credit Report alongside yours. This, in turn, means any missed payments, defaults, or other negative information on your partner’s Credit Report could end up harming your application, even if your Credit Report is otherwise totally clear.

Financial Associations have absolutely no impact on your Credit Score, but they most certainly can have a very real influence on the outcome whenever you try applying for credit.

Can I still get a mortgage if my partner has bad debt?

If you’re financially associated to your partner, and they have adverse markers on their Credit Report, this can make it more difficult to be accepted for credit. Mortgage lenders will be able to see both of your Credit Reports in full when you apply, meaning any harmful entries on theirs can negatively impact your application.

That said, there are many factors that contribute towards a successful mortgage application, with your creditworthiness being just one. Income, existing debt, outgoings, deposit, and more are all important factors that may counteract the harm caused by a partner’s damaged credit history. Additionally, if you’ve got a strong credit rating, it may offset some of the impact from your financial associate.

There are also mortgages specifically aimed at those with impaired credit; these tend to be more expensive, however.

How do I remove my partner from my Credit Report?

If you’re financially associated to your partner, they will appear on your Credit Report as a Financial Association. It’ll also tell you which lender first reported the link between you both and the date this occurred.

If you have any active accounts shared by you both, the Financial Association will be considered valid and therefore won’t be able to be removed until all joint accounts have been closed.

If you have closed all accounts with your partner, and they are listed as closed on your Credit Report, you can expect a disassociation request to be successful, as there is no longer a financial link between you both.

checkmyfile can raise disputes at each Credit Reference Agency on your behalf, letting you easily remove expired associations. Our guide on disputing financial associations gives you a step-by-step walkthrough.

How do I check my Credit Report?

As there are different UK Credit Reference Agencies, you will have separate Credit Reports that lenders can look at when you apply for credit.

checkmyfile makes the process of checking all of your data as simple as it gets by collating your Credit Report information from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion into the same, easy-to-use platform.

If you’ve got any questions about your Credit Report, our Expert Help is just a click away.

You can try our Multi Agency Credit Report free for 30 days, then for just £14.99 per month. Cancel easily online at any time.

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