Research by Debt Advisory Centre suggests that many people are signing up for joint credit agreements without knowing all the facts.
Borrowers are usually ‘joint & severally liable’ for shared borrowing, such as a mortgage, loan or overdraft – meaning they are both responsible for the full amount if one partner can’t pay their way. But 18% of respondents to the survey didn’t understand this.
In fact, 11% thought each partner is liable for exactly half the amount borrowed, while 2% thought each borrower owes an amount in proportion to their income.
In reality, a serious financial emergency – such as relationship breakdown or redundancy – could leave one partner with responsibility for the whole debt, regardless of whether they can realistically afford it.
Ian Williams of Debt Advisory Centre said: “It’s easy to see how joint borrowing can become a serious problem when one partner can’t afford to repay. But in many cases, relationship breakdowns can cause the problem when one partner refuses to pay. In fact, debt problems caused by separation affect one in ten people we help.
“It is a confusing area – for example, joint credit cards are usually based on a single credit agreement with the-first named cardholder responsible for paying the whole balance if things go wrong.
“Whatever the situation, there is help available. Lenders understand that things can go wrong, and will often agree to an affordable repayment plan if you tell them how much you can realistically afford to pay.
“If you are struggling to keep up with your debt repayments it makes sense to seek expert debt help sooner rather than later.”