How long before a debt is written off?

15 May2021

It is actually possible for a debt to become 'statute barred' after a certain period of time - if certain conditions are met. When a debt becomes statute barred, it means that the debt becomes unenforceable. In simple terms, the borrower is no longer obliged to repay the debt if it becomes statute barred.

Debts can become statute barred because not only do you have a responsibility to pay your debts back - your lender is also responsible for ensuring that you pay it back.

How does a debt become statute barred?

There are different rules for different kinds of debt.

Unsecured debts , such as credit cards, store cards, overdrafts and personal loans, can become statute barred after six years.

There is a very important point to consider, however: debt can only become statute barred if your lender has not contacted you about the debt, and you haven't acknowledged that you owe the debt, for the entire six years.

This means that if your lender contacts you about the debt, it would be another six years until it became unenforceable. You must not have made any payments towards the debt during this time either, as this counts as acknowledging it.

Secured loans and mortgages can become statute barred after 12 years of no contact between you and your lender.

When won't a debt be statute barred?

Your debts won't become statute barred if you simply ignore letters and phone calls from your lenders. There has to be no contact from either side. If you simply ignore your lenders, they may end up applying for a CCJ (County Court Judgment) against you, for example, or sending a debt collector round to your home.

Find out about debt collectors here.

If you receive a CCJ before the debt becomes statute barred, your lender will still be able to contact you for the money after six years. If you receive a CCJ after the debt has become statute barred, you can ask the court to set it aside.

Income Tax and VAT debts never become statute barred, no matter how old the debt is.

Student loans can be taken straight from your salary, and therefore will not become unenforceable (if you took the loan out after September 1998).

If you have any questions about when debts become statute barred, speak to an expert debt adviser on 0800 195 2911.

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Tags: debt, statute barred, unsecured debts, CCJ, bailiffs, loans, advice

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