An IVA may not be suitable in all circumstances.

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7 min read

IVA – A Better Alternative to Bankruptcy?

Our advisors frequently receive phone calls from those asking about Bankruptcy. Yet, in many of these cases, this may only occur because that solution is more widely known than the other options available to them.

IVA vs bankruptcy

As our experts always attempt to find the best solution possible, some people may instead decide an IVA (Individual Voluntary Agreement) is a better alternative than Bankruptcy for their circumstances. We’ve outlined below some considerations you may want to take into account when weighing up Bankruptcy or an IVA.

What is Bankruptcy?

Bankruptcy is usually the preferred decision for those seeking a ‘fresh start’. This option writes off all or most of an individual’s debts and is typically best suited for those who cannot repay creditors. Bankruptcy usually lasts for about a year and – during that time – several restrictions may apply. However, once resolved, you should have more control over your finances.

What is an IVA?

An IVA – as opposed to Bankruptcy – is an agreement to pay back your creditors over time through affordable monthly payments. This period is usually between five and six years depending on your circumstances but once the IVA is successfully completed, any outstanding debts will be written off.

What do these two options have in common?

Bankruptcy and IVA are both forms of Insolvency. This means that – regardless of which option you choose – your name will be added onto the Insolvency Register. This is a legal database containing current and recently completed agreements. Although searchable by anyone, it’s only likely to be used by creditors as opposed to members of the general public.

Both options also stay on your credit file for six years starting from the date they began. Consequently, during this time, you might find it difficult to acquire additional loans or credit. Although they have their downsides, an IVA and Bankruptcy both write off significant parts of your debt. In addition, considering their status as legal debt solutions, creditors aren’t permitted to contact you – granting you peace of mind.

How do these two options differ?

Bankruptcy and IVAs differ on a few key areas, for example:

With Bankruptcy, your home might be at risk

As part of Bankruptcy proceedings, your home might need to be sold to raise money for creditors. However, with IVAs this situation is less likely to occur.

If you rent property, Bankruptcy could cause eviction

If you rent property during an IVA this solution should have little effect on your home. However, some landlords include clauses in tenancy agreements which state that Bankruptcy will result in eviction. Consequently, it’s worth reviewing your contract before deciding on either of these options.

An IVA lasts longer than Bankruptcy

Bankruptcy is resolved quicker than an IVA, with this option only lasting about a year. An IVA, on the other hand, generally takes between five and six years to conclude.

Bankruptcy might affect your car

Unless your vehicle is essential (for example, you need it as part of your job) it may have to be sold during Bankruptcy proceedings. Your car should not be affected by an IVA though.

Bankruptcy is generally worse for your job than an IVA

Your employment status could be affected by either of these two options. However, the risks are greater with Bankruptcy. For example, in some industries, contracts may state that Bankruptcy is cause for instant dismissal. Furthermore, if you own a business, that might also be sold off to raise money for creditors. Generally speaking, Bankruptcy will affect your job – and future employment prospects – more than an IVA.

Is an IVA a better alternative to Bankruptcy?

Bankruptcy and IVAs have several things in common. However, an IVA may be the better choice if:

  • You want to protect your assets – such as home and car;
  • Your career would be affected by Bankruptcy;
  • You have regular, stable income or benefits available to pay towards your debts.

Although there are many pros and cons to an IVA, if these three options don’t apply to you, then Bankruptcy might be preferable.

Further reading