If you have taken out a credit agreement, such as a loan or bank account in joint names (with another person/partner) then you are both liable for the full amount of any debt.
The lender cannot recover the money twice but can pursue both of you, for all amounts still outstanding until they have obtained full payment.
Joint and several liability can apply to rent arrears on joint tenancies, arrears on joint mortgages, Council Tax payments, and water charges on properties that have been jointly occupied.
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Dealing with Joint Debt
If you have a joint debt and one of you fails to repay the debt, the lender will ask the other for payment of the full amount. They could also take legal action against you for the recovery of the full amount. We recommend getting free and impartial Debt Help as soon as possible – start by completing our Debt Calculator or call our advisors on 0161 640 0401.
Steps before dealing with Joint Debt
For an agreement to be joint and several then it must be signed by all parties (except for Council Tax). If a lender says you are jointly liable for a debt and you believe this is not the case, it may be worth asking for a copy of the original agreement.
If you have not signed an agreement then you are not liable to pay the debt.
Where credit cards are not taken in joint names, even if you have two cards, then only one cardholder is considered the account holder. They will be responsible for full repayment of the debt, regardless of which card was used.
How does marriage affect Joint Debt?
Any debts which have been taken out prior to the marriage in sole names are purely the responsibility of the one person.
Your credit history won’t appear on your partner’s credit report and your credit rating will not be affected by your marriage. Any debts taken out in joint names during the marriage are the responsibility of both parties. If one party has bad credit, then their poor credit rating may affect the joint application.
Deceased Partner or Family Member Debt
If the debts are in the deceased partner’s sole name, then you are not responsible to pay the debts, but if there is any equity in the estate, then the creditors may put a claim against the estate for repayment of the debt.
If you were a guarantor for the debt, then the creditors are able to pursue you for the outstanding debt. If the debt was in the family member’s name, then creditors cannot pursue a third party for payment.
You should take advice, there may be several repayment options open to you. Different debts require different solutions, mortgage and rent are priority debts, whereas credit cards and personal loans are unsecured.
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