Landlords are urged to get up to speed with the government’s new breathing space scheme, before attempting to seek possession of their properties.
The breathing space regulations, which came into force on 4 May 2021, pause enforcement action against people with debt problems, who have sought advice from a debt charity or counselling organisation.
There are two types of breathing space. A standard arrangement lasts for up to 60 days, while a mental health crisis breathing space ends 30 days after the applicant has finished treatment.
The change affects landlords because they must put bailiff action over rent arrears on hold if such a measure is in place. It also means that any section 8 eviction notices must include details of the breathing space scheme.
If your tenant has successfully applied for a breathing space, citing rent arrears in their application, you will be notified by the Insolvency Service. If this happens you will not be able to issue a section 8 notice for rent arrears (under grounds 8,10 and 11). You can, however, still use other grounds to seek an eviction, if appropriate.
According to industry trade body, ARLA Propertymark, landlords who sent out section 8 notices recently, without including the new information, may find them invalid.
Propertymark's policy adviser Mark Hayward said: “The changes introduced are to allow those struggling financially to have a limited time in which to seek advice and formulate a plan to move forward. The scheme will have a large impact on the current processes followed by [letting] agents and landlords when taking action against rent arrears, and it is now hugely important that those dealing with rent debt are aware of the new scheme and the changes in working it will bring.”
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