Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA)
An Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA) is a legally binding agreement between you and your creditors usually lasting 5 years. It is a genuine method of avoiding bankruptcy while still being subject to a formal debt solution. To enter an IVA you must be technically insolvent, usually have disposable income, at least £15,000 of unsecured debt incorporating at least three creditors or two involving three lines of credit (some companies may look at administering an IVA for lower / less). To propose / set up / administer an IVA a debtor must be assisted by an Insolvency Practitioner who will act as Supervisor of the arrangement.
- once entered into all negotiations are handled by the Insolvency Practitioner
- no creditor pressure
- interest and charges stopped
- one monthly payment (usually for 5 years)
- homeowners can almost always keep their home (terms & conditions need to be checked)
- avoids the perceived stigma of bankruptcy
- substantial amount of debt may be written off on completion
- homeowners may need to release equity via a re-mortgage or secured loan (2014 protocol) in the 4th / 5th year of the IVA or extend the payments for another 12 months
- damaged credit record (6 years)
- failing to stick to the terms of the IVA may result in bankruptcy with a possible risk to homes
- if the IVA fails early it is possible that a substantial amount of money paid in will have gone on fees
- details of IVAs are available on the public Insolvency Service Register
- possible problems with employer (example insolvency clause in employment contract)
- landlord issues (insolvency clause in tenancy agreement possible risk to home)
- tight budget for 5/6 years
- certain debts excluded, examples magistrates court fines / CSA / mortgage
If you decide on an IVA as a method of dealing with your debts you should consult several Insolvency Practitioners comparing their services and fees (some dont charge up front fees). Insolvency Practitioners are usually accountants, some are solicitors and their fees are similar to those charged by members of these professions for other kinds of work.
Regrettably, we have seen clients who have been offered or entered into IVAs which they do not fully understand. In some cases it has been disturbingly clear that other more suitable and considerably less expensive options (example bankruptcy) have not been fully explored.
Always make sure you have had full independent impartial advice on all options before deciding on / signing up to an IVA preferably from a genuinely free agency such as Citizens Advice.
IVA Advice / Information / Support Forums
Forums can be useful for asking questions and also seeing that other people are going through the same things as you. You will have to sign up to them to post new messages but can read them without.
- IVA.co.uk Forum (ask an Insolvency Practitioner a question / compare providers)
- IVA Support and Advice Forum (Martin Lewis MSE)