Nottingham, UK, 03 December 2013 – asra Housing Group, one of the UK's leading housing and regeneration providers, has signed up to sharing rental payment information with the Rental Exchange.
The Rental Exchange is a partnership between Experian®, the global information services company and Big Issue Invest (the investment arm of The Big Issue) helping the social housing sector address the financial, digital and social exclusion challenges faced by many social housing tenants.
asra Housing Group, which is responsible for more than 14,000 homes and 36,000 social housing tenants across the Midlands and the South East of England, will submit regular information on how their tenants pay their rent and play a vital role in helping to strengthen their credit histories.
Through the Rental Exchange, this data will be included in a secure and compliant way in future credit reports. This will significantly improve the level of insight available to help credit providers assess risk and affordability. It will help open up access to more affordable credit for social housing tenants by helping them more easily demonstrate their creditworthiness.
Amanda Hack, Head of Economic Development at asra Housing Group, said: “Social housing tenants do not currently have the benefit of using their rental payment history to build up a positive credit file. Those with a lower credit score have fewer choices available to them and may have to pay more to access loan facilities.
“We’re constantly looking at ways to improve our service to our tenants and the Rental Exchange presented a simple but valuable solution. Many of our tenants have rented their homes for many years, they've been good tenants, paying their rent continuously and on time. Currently this is not recognised on their credit file, so they’re often unable to get the same financial benefits as mortgage holders. Being able to help ensure rental payment data is taken into account within credit decisions is one valuable way we can help our tenants to access mainstream financial products and services.”
Having their rental payment information shared will also enable asra’s tenants to qualify for a range of basic, but vital services, such as current accounts. Many tenants, who currently fail electronic identity checks, will have greater potential to pass them if rental data is added to their credit history.
asra Housing Group is a not for profit organisation that aims to provide affordable housing. One of its key commitments is to improve financial confidence among its tenants and support them in making good financial decisions. Sharing information on rent payments and playing a role in enabling access to affordable finance, will form a key part of this.
Jonathan Westley, Managing Director of Consumer Information Services at Experian UK & Ireland, comments: “asra Housing Group is clearly committed to combating the financial challenges faced by their tenants and now they have taken a step towards making a significant difference. Rent payment data will help improve the effectiveness and fairness of credit decisions and is one of the most sustainable ways in which we can have a positive impact on poverty.
“All those involved in the social housing sector can also make a difference to their tenants’ social and economic hardship. Sharing rental payment data will bring us closer to closing the information gap and help give tenants the chance to strengthen their credit histories.”
asra Housing Group is one of 160 housing providers who are now engaged with Experian and Big Issue Invest to share rental payment data through the Rental Exchange. Social housing tenants will be notified by their housing providers of the data collection and also at the point of data access. Any access to the data will comply with the requirements of the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA). Experian and Big Issue Invest have been in discussion with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) to ensure sharing of rental payments is fully compliant and fair to the tenant.
For further information about the Rental Exchange or get involved, please visit: http://www.experian.co.uk/rental-exchange/contact-us-form.html