news release


Credit scoring boost for 93 per cent of social housing tenants, thanks to the Rental Exchange

Tenants will also find it much easier to prove their identity online

Nottingham, UK, 11 November 2013 — A massive 93 per cent of social housing tenants would receive a welcome boost to their credit ratings if information about their regular rent payments is shared through the Rental Exchange, according to new analysis revealed today.

A massive of social housing tenants would receive a welcome boost to their credit ratings if information about their regular rent payments is shared through the according to new analysis revealed today.

The Rental Exchange is a partnership between Experian®, the global information services company, and Big Issue Invest (the investment arm of The Big Issue) to deliver the scheme in the social housing sector.  The goal of the partnership is to help address the financial, digital and social exclusion challenges faced by many social housing tenants in the UK. 

Sarah Forster, Deputy CEO and Director of Development for Big Issue Invest, said: “For us, the Rental Exchange is about fairness, enabling social tenants to build a credit history in the same way as mortgage holders.  Many tenants live in a very high cost economy.  Having a positive credit history can help reduce the cost of living.”

New analysis of rental payment records from a range of housing providers[1] reveals that the vast majority of social housing tenants, many of whom may currently be excluded from affordable credit and other services due to a lack of a credit history, would see positive benefits.

Through the Rental Exchange, both social and private housing providers will be able to submit information about the rent their tenants regularly pay.  The tenants’ payment history will be factored into credit decisions, securely and compliantly, to significantly improve the level of insight available to help credit providers assess risk and affordability.  This will ultimately help to open up access to more affordable credit for social housing tenants by enabling them to more easily demonstrate their creditworthiness.

Jonathan Westley, Managing Director of Experian’s UK&I Consumer Information Services, comments: “Millions of social housing tenants have little or no credit history, so have been excluded from affordable credit, or paid a premium for it.  This includes basic facilities, such as current accounts.  For credit providers to lend responsibly, but also prevent fraud, they need a more complete view of customers’ financial commitments and payment history.  The addition of rental payment data will improve the insight available to make accurate and responsible decisions.

“This initial analysis clearly shows the overwhelmingly positive impact the Rental Exchange will have, so the more housing associations that start to share data with us, the more we can help address the problem of financial exclusion in the UK.”

Experian analysed a sample (c 24,000) of the rent payment records already shared with Experian’s Rental Exchange.  Experian’s key findings were:

- 20 per cent of social housing tenants have credit scores just below a typical mainstream lender’s pass mark.  By adding rental payment data, these scores will be pushed into a higher bracket giving them potential access to mainstream lending and enabling them to avoid more expensive alternatives.  When applied to all social housing tenants in the UK, this could mean that up to 1 million[2] people could gain access to cheaper credit and see their financial outlook improved.

- Up to 66 per cent of social housing tenants who currently fail electronic identity checks to qualify for a range of basic, but vital services, have the potential to pass identity checks if rental data is added to their credit history.  Many lenders and other online service providers routinely use and rely on identity verification services that use credit history information as evidence of name and address.  

- In total 88 per cent of tenants will be able to prove their identities, with rental payment information added to credit reports, compared to only 65 per cent without. 

The Rental Exchange will enable more people to qualify for a range of additional services, often services they have struggled to gain access to in the past, such as current accounts.  Furthermore, the on-going addition of rental payment data will enable tenants who still fall short of qualifying for mainstream credit to build a good payment history, helping to improve their credit scores over time, widen access to credit and save them money with cheaper deals.

Experian and Big Issue Invest are actively working with over 160 social housing providers representing over 1.9 million tenants and it is expected that by the end of the year a third of these records will be in the Rental Exchange.  The next stage of the scheme, which will commence next year, will be to feed the data into lenders’ credit decisions.

For further information about the Rental Exchange or get involved, please visit:


[1] Including housing associations, local authorities and ALMOs (not for profit organisations providing housing services on behalf of local authorities).

[2] Based on if the results are extrapolated out to the five million social housing tenants in the UK.