• Published: 18th Feb 21
  • Category: News

This might sound like a made up piece of legislation but I assure you it is not. And I apologise now. I tried hard to condense this into a light hearted quick read format but it has proven a challenge.

The Debt Respite Scheme (Breathing Space Moratorium and Mental Health Crisis Moratorium) (England and Wales) Regulations 2020 come into being on the 4th May 2021 and are designed to help those in need of financial assistance.

They are a pretty wordy set of regulations and although they were not designed solely for the Private Rented Sector, rent arrears are included as a qualifying debt.

How does it affect tenants and landords?

A tenant who is struggling with their finances can apply for a standard breathing space. This is a 60 day moratorium against their creditors and means that they can not be contacted about that debt during that time. It also means that no enforcement action can be taken and this would include serving a Section 8 notice for rent arrears. Additionally you can not charge interest during the 60 days.

There is no automatic right to breathing space. Nor can someone just declare they are entering a breathing space period. They must apply for the scheme through either a debt advice provider who is authorised to provide such advice by the Financial Conduct Authority or through the local authority.

That person must not be already be bankrupt,  have a debt relief order or IVA or have had another moratorium or had one within 12 months of their application. Additionally if there are assets that can be sold then breathing space won’t be granted.

If it is granted then creditors are notified and the person is entered onto a public register.

If the applicant is applying as a result of a mental health crisis then this must be proven medically and must be formally determined by an Approved Mental Health Professional. Anyone can apply on their behalf including their power of attorney or next of kin.

The debt advisor will look to help the person manage their debt and enter into a sustainable repayment plan with their creditors, or help to find a solution.

There is lots more information available through the gov.uk website and you can read the guidance here which will give you more information should you need it.

 

Please note the date this article was published as the law may have changed since it was posted. You should always seek independent legal advice if you are intending to rely on any of the contents.

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