The government has dropped another of its regular end-of-the-week private rental sector legal bombshells following a sudden alteration to the legislation underpinning Section 8 eviction notices

Both Landlords, agents and their solicitors will from Tuesday May 4th onwards have to include details of the governments recently-introduced ‘breathing space’ debt scheme within paperwork when seeking to gain possession of a property, or risk the eviction being rejected.

Announced last summer, the Debt Respite Scheme (Breathing Space) gives someone in problem debt the right to legal protections from their creditors for up to 60 days.

These regulations come into force on Tuesday, which is why housing minister Christopher Pincher has now inserted an amendment into The Assured Tenancies and Agricultural Occupancies (Forms) (Moratorium Debt) (Consequential Amendment) (England) Regulations 2021.

- Advertisement -

“Anyone who serves a notice using the incorrect template runs the risk of having their case thrown out on a technicality,” says Tim Frome of Landlord Action.

“With six-month notice periods in place at the moment this could be a very expensive mistake.

“This further highlights why landlords should use a Solicitors Regulation Authority regulated and authorised law firm such as Landlord Action to serve possession notices.”

Mike Morgan, Legal Division Manager at HF Assist, adds: “We have taken a number of calls on our HF Assist phone lines about the requirements set out in the Debt Respite Scheme regulations.

“The basic position is that if a tenant has a qualifying debt, such as rent arrears, they can see an FCA or local authority authorised debt advisor and apply for a debt moratorium.

“This gives them an eight-week breathing space from being chased for the amount owed while they work with the debt adviser to restructure their finances to pay their debts. The tenant should still pay their rent during this period.”

Please note: The update to the regulations posted online today (30th April) included an incorrect template Form 3. MHCLG has been alerted and says the correct one will be live on their website on Tuesday.

Read a free guide to the Breathing Space regulations.

33 COMMENTS

  1. The tenant should still pay their rent during this period!

    If they had been paying their rent then there would be less cause to evict them, and if they are in rent arrears are they going to pay any rent?

  2. Wow, yet even more legislation that helps legitimises theft, *admittedly I only scanned, what is this country turning into, crazy loonies lobbied by extremists like shelter, *we just pleased we’re close to being out of it, after selling up, sadly, good families forced into stresses of finding a new home, we simply no longer could be bother with all the undeserved anti rhetoric actually felt sorry for the buyer, who’s starting out & just getting into this farce, nothing but unneeded stress, that certainly seems disproportionate against decent Landlord’s, of which 99.999% supply quality rental properties!

    • Completely agree. I am also fed up. Loss thousands and now planning to sell.
      I hope the rent go so high due to all these regulations where tenants wont be able to afford and thus end up on street.
      Ah then the gov will block the ret increase.
      No win.

    • Agreed! This theory of shoving the debt onto the shoulders of landlords is outrageous. Landlords are suffering badly and if successive governments aren’t careful there will be no point in this sector, they will bring on an absolute disaster for everyone. Moral landlord set a good standard but this is taking the michael. Landlords need a breathing space too.

  3. I cannot believe a Tory government has done this to us landlords! Shame on them! My rents have gone right down and I am worried about letting to tenants and having them not paying the rent and forcing me to evict them and end up waiting ages. I’m getting out of this game. I thought I was providing a service.

  4. I have been selling up and this only reinforces my strategy. Was going it as tenants gave notice or I served notice on non payers. Now I’ll be serving notice at the end of May on the ones left.

  5. We are selling up. There’s so many great landlords out there who now have to jump through so many hoops. No point we are leaving the sector too before it gets even more crazy. And it will.

  6. Why is the government doing everything they can for the tenant…. what about landlords? If there are no private landlords, what will happen? Surely there must be someone, somewhere, lobbying for landlords?

      • Simon, I agree, at first I thought this was happening because the Govt didn’t understand the PRS but now I see they have a deliberate but unspoken agenda which fits with almost everything else they do. The Govt is beholden to large private corporations and they are deliberately driving out all the smaller landlords with the eventual aim of tenants having nowhere to go except to corporate landlords. After corporate landlords have come to dominate the PRS tenants will soon realise that a corporate landlord has absolutely no scruples or flexibility on anything, especially accepting a tenant who may be a bit “marginal” and especially on being a bit late on the rent now and again. The rules are the rules is what they will be told.
        The corporate landlord will be totally unforgiving. You can expect evictions and homelessness to rise in the UK.
        You can also expect after the PRS has become corporate dominated all these anti landlord rules will magically start to fade away.

        • This is what I think. The tenants who are in what is left of the PRS will really appreciate what they’ve got – a real treasure of a landlord and property – so the pendulum will start to swing the other way. Corporate LLs will become the new Rachmans and the PRS will start to rise again. Not in my lifetime though.

  7. Is it about time that we take a stand and lobby parliament for changes ?
    Who had the bright idea of giving DSS tenants the housing benefits well boils my blood 8 weeks in arrears before you start with covid .

  8. Anyone who now gets a successful reposssession should be recommended for the honours list.
    Bring back Rachman! All is forgiven

  9. Interesting comments which I can confirm is happening elsewhere.

    Was discussing things with MX who advised that they were experiencing large numbers of redemptions and didn’t know why.

    I explained all the reasons why LL are selling up and then they understood.

    There is no doubt that many LL have had enough and are getting out of AST lettings

    The business proposition for mortgaged LL is definitely suspect now.

    Mortgage free LL are better able to cope with feckless rent defaulting tenants.

    They are currently about 50% of the PRS.

    It would perhaps be wise for as many leveraged LL as possible to achieve mortgage free status by either selling up or selling off to reduce leverage to zero on other properties.

    That would mean many more LL being resilient to feckless rent defaulting tenants.

    Mortgage free LL would still suffer from such tenants but at least they wouldn’t risk losing the property to repossession by mortgage lenders.

    Such LL could effectively take such losses on the chin!!

    Those LL unable to deleverage would be better off selling up.

    It is clear that it pays to be a feckless rent defaulting tenant.

    Those savvy feckless tenants will know how to game the system to facilitate rent free living until a LL is able to evict.

    With all the gaming that a feckless tenant could achieve it could be a standard 2 years before many LL are able to evict.

    I would suggest that this means the BTL business model is unviable with rent defaulting tenants able to game the system.

    The BTL business model with all the detrimental things due to occur make remaining an AST LL largely unviable.

    The RRB resulting in S21 and AST being abolished along with only a revised S8 process being available makes the PRS a very risky business environment especially for leveraged LL.

    It would be far better for LL as far as resilience is concerned if they could achieve leverage free status.

    Easy to say NOT so easy to achieve!!

  10. I’m a long term social tenant for over 20 years. I have never been in rent arrears. I support vulnerable disabled people in my own time. I’m trying to help a 55 year old gentleman who has worked all his life up until a few years ago. He had a complete breakdown but it is impossible to find anywhere to rent due to this deluded attitude that anyone on benefits is a scrounger. He was Section 21 evicted after having to claim benefits even though his rent was paid in full. God help any of you if you get ill, get a disability or your marriage breaks down. Many of you will be surprised how quickly your life can unravel! One day many of you will be eating your own words and I hope you choke on them. Disgusting discriminatory attitude. Exactly why society is going to crap!

    • Your comment is irrelevant to this article, the majority of us are good Landlords with decent properties, this article is about evictions, not Landlords discriminating against benefit claimants. If you were a Landlord with tenants in huge arrears that also trash your property and you couldn’t evict them you would understand the desperate situation. When a tenant is paid money for rent, from UC or HB, this should then be paid to the Landlord, many do not and spend it elsewhere which in my mind is theft. Regarding your comment, most mortgage companies will not allow us to rent to benefit claimants, it’s in the clause when you sign for a mortgage and if they so wished they could make you pay the mortgage loan off as you would be breaking an agreement. While I sympathise with the gentleman’s predicament you clearly have no idea about being a private Landlord so should refrain from passing comment.

    • Why don’t you sign as a guarantor for the gentleman? Then if he doesn’t pay his rent, you can. If you won’t, why should a landlord?

    • It’s not that every benefits recipient is a scrounger. Lots of people are on benefits e.g. child benefit. There are two main problems with tenants who rely 100% on benefits: one is that HB isn’t paid direct and in full to the landlord leading to a very high risk that at some point the tenant will spend the rent money on something else. Tenants can be sanctioned inevitably leading to rent not being paid and Christmas arrives as a complete surprise once a year. The second main problem is damage and rubbish either building up over the tenancy or at the end of the tenancy. My last tenants who relied solely on benefits cost me thousands in damages. Deposits are limited and no where near enough to cover the risk of letting to a 100% benefits tenant. Now, I only accept tenants who are employed.

      I would welcome anyone who thinks landlords should take on a high risk tenant to be considered for the position of guarantor to that tenant. To refuse would be to confirm that the tenant is high risk.

    • I’m a landlord who ultimately had to rent my sole property to help keep my primary house. I worked as a medic for 15 years and incurred a mental breakdown. I’m a landlord who takes pride in my sole property anything that tenant wants they get. BUT they stopped paying rent in late 2019 BEFORE covid but used covid to their advantages racking up £10k in debt. They are now stalking me and police have had to them a restraining order. Early this year they should have attended a possession hearing but they didn’t they were shampooing their private reg high spec land rover. The judge ordered possession to me and gave the tenants 2 weeks to get out and pay up otherwise a county court judgement goes against them. They refused to leave even when ordered to leave by county court. This has been a 1.5 year battle and still I having to go via the courts to remove these non paying tenants. They have drilled through my exterior walls and put CCTV cameras up. They have told the estate agency they no longer can do routine inspections. These tenants were awarded a back payment of 1 year in universal credit both for rent and living costs YET still with hold the rent allocated from universal credit. So I’m sorry but this tenant and landlord situation works both ways. I now need to just let my sole property get repossessed. So both tenant and I will be homeless. Well done shelter

    • I’m a landlord who ultimately had to rent my sole property to help keep my primary house. I worked as a medic for 15 years and incurred a mental breakdown. I’m a landlord who takes pride in my sole property anything that tenant wants they get. BUT they stopped paying rent in late 2019 BEFORE covid but used covid to their advantages racking up £10k in debt. They are now stalking me and police have had to them a restraining order. Early this year they should have attended a possession hearing but they didn’t they were shampooing their private reg high spec land rover. The judge ordered possession to me and gave the tenants 2 weeks to get out and pay up otherwise a county court judgement goes against them. They refused to leave even when ordered to leave by county court. This has been a 1.5 year battle and still I having to go via the courts to remove these non paying tenants. They have drilled through my exterior walls and put CCTV cameras up. They have told the estate agency they no longer can do routine inspections. These tenants were awarded a back payment of 1 year in universal credit both for rent and living costs YET still with hold the rent allocated from universal credit. So I’m sorry but this tenant and landlord situation works both ways. I now need to just let my sole property get repossessed. So both tenant and I will be homeless. Well done shelter
      I can’t sell my property as non paying tenants sit in my property. My tenants have the means to go on property pool and select a property within their universal credit living cost budget, I’ve evidence of them refusing properties because they can live in a £800pm property for nothing and still keep their rent portion. They give people on universal credit a bad name.

  11. We have sold two of our tenanted properties as we are sick to death of the rules and regulations that protect scamming tenants! Got one more on the market & another in August after tenants leave! Would NEVER DO IT AGAIN!

  12. Let’s carry on punishing the ones trying to get on and support the freeloaders. Vote Tory, labour Lib Dem’s if you want this to continue…

  13. Why not just create a leaflet that has “All the devious loopholes to avoid eviction” and make that mandatory with any eviction paperwork.

    Or how about Landlords should have to pay Shelter solicitors for tenants to avoid eviction.

    Sounds totally reasonable..

  14. I became a homeless landlord due to my tenants not removing themselves from my property. Any money I had was put on the mortgage to keep the roof over my tenants heads (4 adults) whilst I contacted shelter and asked for a roof over my head. The best they could offer me was a B&B at a £1000 per month. I said how can I afford that when I’m paying for the tenants roof over their head because I’m trying to save my sole home which shelter keep protecting non paying tenants with the ban in evictions. Funny how the last ban removed gross rent arrears and kept anti social behaviour and illegal tenants. My tenants have stalked me but if I did this to the tenant i as a landlord would be sued. Youde think if a tenant breaches the contract then they should be deemed as illegal tenants. My tenants have 1) fine criminal damage to my property drilling through interior and exterior walls to out up CCTV without my permission, 2) not paying rent in over a year 3) being obstructive to routine house inspections with more than 2 weeks notice etc .The government is an utter disgrace.

  15. As a kind gesture I allowed my tenant back into the property following release from a short term in prison. He then refused to pay any rent. He is now an expert in the eviction process and even advertises as a McKenzie friend to help advise other tenants on how to avoid eviction and live rent-free. I am owed months in arrears over £10K. Despite the S8 being issued pre Covid after three court hearings (effectively hearings about hearings) the case still awaiting resolution. He has lodged a 146 point defense of false allegations and legal jargon lifted off the internet and is counterclaiming through the online court applications process for over 20K! All a scam. I still work to pay the mortgage and spend weekends dealing with court applications and the legal costs are mounting not to mention the stress. It is a scandal.

  16. I’ve been a landlord for 20 years now and having read the comments above I consider myself lucky with the few incidents I’ve had.
    Currently I’m trying to evict a tenant under Anti social drug dealing. Her flat has been used as part of county lines and all last year we had all sorts coming and going including police raids. The big issue is her flat is right in the middle of a serviced accomodation property so has effectively closed me down. My gripe is not with the courts (at the moment) but trying to get a police statement that supports my case. The one I finally did get is all about what a victim she is and poor helpless girl. She didn’t look so helpless when she was parading herself in her new clothes and jewellry, or when she blatently gets into cars outside the property for literally 20 seconds and then in the early hours goes out on her push bike presumably delivering.
    My long term plans were to leave the properties to the kids for additional income but reading the comments above do I really want to do that to them?
    It is a world on its head, but of course according to the media and general belief us landlords are money grabbing slum providers, that are straight out of Dickens so we deserve everything we get.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here