Renting with a CCJ

Renting with a CCJ

No matter how you got there, renting with a CCJ can be tricky. Whether you experienced a sudden financial hardship that was out of your control or money troubles that snowballed over time — a CCJ on your credit report could give landlords pause for thought. After all, renting a property is like any business and a landlord needs to feel confident they’ll see a return on their investment each month.

The good news is, there are plenty of ways to reassure nervous landlords and if your CCJ has expired, it’s even possible that you won’t need to worry at all. Stick with us and we’ll take you through some tips and tricks for understanding your CCJ situation and what to do next:

What is CCJ?

Before we get going, let’s just make sure we’re all on the same page. What does CCJ stand for? A CCJ is a county court judgement for debt. It means that someone has previously taken legal action against you because you owed them money — not a great look for a new tenant. This might have happened if you got into rent arrears with your previous landlord and as a result, an active CCJ will show up when a new landlord checks your credit report.

Luckily, records of these judgments are only kept for 6 years and if you paid off the debt within a month, you shouldn’t have a record at all. You might’ve had a few points knocked off your credit score though, so why not check out these ideas on how to boost your credit score in 11 simple steps. It’s also useful to note that paying rent consistently over time can improve your credit score too.

But if it’s been less than 6 years and you didn’t pay off your debt in that first month? It’s likely your CCJ will still be active. In this case, you might struggle to find a new place to live — but there are a few ways to improve your chances.

How to rent with a CCJ

So you have an active CCJ, what next? Think of it this way: you’re more likely to be rejected by a new landlord if they feel they can’t trust you to pay the rent on time. And that’s fair enough right? Historically, a CCJ isn’t exactly a gleaming review of your reliability with rent. So the goal here is to prove to your new landlord that you can be trusted. That way they’ll have less problem accepting you.

Here are some tips…

  • Check your credit score before you apply — it helps to know what your new landlord will see when they search you up.
  • Offer a larger deposit — this shows you have cash available. It's good to note that under the Rental Housing Act 2019 landlords can't charge more than 5 weeks' rent, though, so best not to offer more than that!
  • Offer to pay a few months’ rent upfront — this is a good way of eliminating the worry of missed payments for a while.
  • Get a written reference or endorsement from a previous landlord — possibly not the one who took you to court, because, you know, that could be tricky.
  • If you’re moving out of another property that you’ve been renting since you received your CCJ, ask your existing landlord what percentage of your deposit you can expect back. If it’s high, you can then share this info with your new landlord as proof you would look after their property.

At the end of the day, some landlords will be more prepared to take on risk than others. If you get a rejection, don’t give up. For help finding a new place, check out our list of: ‘Best websites to find a rental property’.

Can I private rent with a CCJ?

You may have heard that it’s easier to privately rent with an active CCJ — and that’s correct. A letting agent or property manager might not give you the chance to make a case for yourself or offer any of the above supporting evidence. They’re usually more concerned with ticking boxes and unfortunately, a CCJ on record is a big red flag that could get your application tossed.

On the other hand, when you apply to a private landlord, you’re dealing with an individual who manages their property themselves. As a result, they can make their own choices on a case-by-case basis, ie. if you can make a good case for yourself, you’re more likely to get a fair shake.

Renting with a CCJ and guarantor

Perhaps the most effective way to get accepted for a property with a CCJ is to have a rent guarantor in place. This is someone who commits to making any necessary rent payments on your behalf if you come up short. That way, a landlord doesn’t need to worry about the risk of taking you on — because the rent will get paid even if it’s not by you!

If you fail a credit check, you may be offered the property anyway on the condition of a rent guarantor. Alternatively, you could offer to find one to improve your chances of being accepted. Anyone can act as your rent guarantor, as long as they meet the following criteria:

  • They’re UK based (so their financial records can be accessed)
  • They can prove they own property or earn enough money to cover your costs

It’s common to use a parent or family member, but this isn’t required. To find out more information about rent guarantors, check out: ‘What is a rent guarantor and who can be one?

A few final tips…

If you’re looking for a new place to rent, whether you’ve had a CCJ or not, it’s a good idea to do a full review of your monthly income, savings, and any outgoings you might have (including if you’re still paying an old landlord back). As a general guide, you should spend about 30% of your income each month on rent and if you haven’t got savings — you might want to go a bit lower than this.

Avoid a sticky situation by reading: ‘How much rent can you afford’.

And don’t forget to factor in council tax! Check out: ‘Do you pay council tax if you rent?’

Urban Jungle is not a financial advisor and information in this article should not be taken as advice or recommendation.