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17.04.2018

What is a Debt Relief Order?

A Debt Relief Order (DRO) is a formal debt solution available to residents of England, Wales and Northern Ireland. You must owe under £20,000, and you must not have any assets which you could sell to pay your debts.

This means you should not own your home or any other valuable assets. You can own up to £1,000 worth of assets, as well as one car worth under £1,000. Not every type of debt is covered by a DRO, but credit cards, overdrafts, payday loans, rent or bill arrears, and many other types of unsecured debt can be included. A similar Scottish solution called a ‘Minimal Assets Process’ (MAP) is available for residents of Scotland.

With a DRO, you apply to have your debts frozen for 12 months and pay nothing towards them during this time. If your circumstances have not changed during this time, then, after the 12 months have passed, you debts will be written off.

You must work with an authorised DRO debt adviser who can apply on your behalf to an Official Receiver for a DRO. You cannot apply for a DRO on your own, so it is important that you do not stop trying to meet your payments until a DRO is approved. Setting up and running a DRO costs you £90.

Debt Relief Order – Advantages

  • A DRO is less expensive when compared to Bankruptcy. However, it is important to note that there are other insolvency solutions which require no upfront fees. An IVA, for example, reorganises your payments into one, affordable payment, and the fee for setting up and maintaining an IVA is taken from within that affordable payment.
  • All your unsecured debts can be included in your DRO
  • As long as the DRO is in place, creditors are no longer allowed to contact you, which includes taking legal action against you.
  • For up to 12 months, you do not have to make payments.
  • If your circumstances have not changed over those 12 months, you will never have to make a payment again as your debts are completely written off.

Debt Relief Order – Disadvantages

  • It can be difficult to get a DRO as the eligibility criteria are very specific.
  • It becomes difficult to borrow further credit as you must tell lenders about your DRO for any amount over £500
  • Your career could be impacted as you cannot establish or direct a company without court permission
  • The DRO will appear on the Insolvency Register, which is a publically available database of insolvencies. Mostly, credit file agencies and lenders use this database to assess your financial stability and set your interest rates.
  • Your DRO can be revoked if your circumstances improved, making you responsible for repaying your debts once again. Your creditors will be able to contact you and you must find another solution to your debts