Landlords face more eviction hurdles after May 4th when a government scheme to protect people who have ‘problem debt’ comes into force.

As the NRLA highlighted earlier this week, while this legislation is aimed primarily at large lenders such as banks, the obligations apply to any creditor, including landlords.

Called the Debt Respite or ‘Breathing Space’ Scheme, it is designed to protect a variety of people who may have built up problem debt caused by the pandemic. The new scheme will impact both the evictions process and how landlord interact with guarantors.

Breathing spaces

“These breathing spaces come in two forms – standard and mental health,” says Mike Morgan of HF Assist and Mediation.

“A standard breathing space means landlords cannot contact a tenant to collect rent arrears for 60 days.

“A mental health crisis breathing space is only available to someone who is receiving mental health crisis treatment and it has some stronger protections. It lasts as long as the person’s mental health crisis treatment, plus 30 days.

Mike continues “It is important however to put this development into perspective. The new Regulations apply only to the enforcement of a ‘qualifying’ debt. This means for example where a court judgement for the debt has been made.

Furthermore, the scheme is not the debt free-for-all landlords might imagine – Breathing Spaces must be approved by either local authority, charity or FCA-approved debt advisors. An approved mental health professional will also need to be involved in cases relating to mental health”.

Once  a breathing Space has been confirmed, landlords’ hands are tied; they cannot serve a Section 8 eviction notice, apply for a warrant or money judgement or receive a possession order. “Also, during a Breathing Space, landlords should not contact the tenant to ask for payment of the debt,” says Morgan (pictured).

“But mediation can continue during this process, albeit between the landlord and the tenant’s debt counsellor.”

The scheme will be administered by the Insolvency Service, which will notify landlords if their tenants has successfully entered the Breathing Space scheme.”


  1. Increasingly, landlords are on the hook for just about all the financial problems their tenants face (genuine or otherwise). On the one hand landlords are being asked to be more inclusive in terms of who they let to (such as DSS), yet on the other we are being completely hamstrung to the point where we will only rent to bullet-proof risks. Despite attempts to legislate, we will find ways to discern and those those without jobs, impeccable references and credit histories will be excluded from the PRS.

  2. We would now stop providing houses to DSS. This is ridiculous. Breathing Space maybe one for the mortgage lender when he looks to do the next credit search. We will be looking to remove all current DSS tenants in our portfolio asap. Start selling them off and make it the governments problem.

  3. You really couldn’t make it up. If the govt wants to help people in debt then THEY should offer them loans,. Landlords should not have to help in any way .It is not their job to do so , they have no finance or training to do so. Banks etc are not allowed to let people vet into debts that they cannot afford, yet landlords have to offer debt willy nilly. Crazy.

  4. Unfortunately if LL discriminate against those tenant applicants with MH issues they will have a problem.

    How will LL be able to ascertain legally whether any tenant applicant is suffering MH issues?

    Then how will they reject without a tenant applicant accusing the LL of discrimination??

    All very difficult.

    I guess avoid the lower quality tenants as that is where most MH issues abound.
    It certainly seems that a flight to quality tenants makes far more financial sense than dealing with the dregs.

    All the yield in the world could be wiped out by a MH tenant.
    Makes no business sense.

  5. I’ve said it a thousand times, landlords have zero political clout. In fact it’s the opposite, landlord bashing wins political points. There really is no way out. Two years ago I had a portfolio of 5 properties, now 2 and shortly one. It’s 50/50 whether I sell or carry on renting. If I do rent then my due diligence in respect of obtaining a good tenant will have no limits.

  6. Government sanctioned theft, recent legislation undermines basic contract law and effectively allows any tenant to not pay rent, not discuss this with the landlord and effectively steal a house for month after month. You’ll note this opportunity isn’t extended to stealing Council tax or from the tax man . Short sighted by the government unless there’s some secret plan to have the state invest heavily in purchasing ex rentals. Landlords are being left to rely on the decency of their tenants to honour their agreements without any legal backup

  7. The Government seems concerned about tenants’ mental health, but not about that of landlords. If you have a tenant not paying their rent and sticking two fingers up to you, this is extremely stressful, especially if you really need the money they are not paying. Appalling, especially from a so called Conservative government.

    • This is really not a Conservative government. They have moved to the centre ground and way to the left in order to win votes. This has meant riding rough-shod over landlords, many of whom traditionally voted for them. There may be many a landlord making a protest vote at the forthcoming elections, but the politicians don’t care as long as they attract the votes of the tenants.

  8. My tenant has worked throughout the lockdown full time, no change to her circumstances yet refused to pay her rent, or allow access. In one text she told us to apply for a mortgage break. We severed notice she hasn’t gone and we have proceeded to court. The court has such delays now we have been waiting ages. When we get the property back it will be sold I can not bear having to go through this again. The rules are completely set up for the tenant they should have to prove the hardship they claim to be facing. Landlords with only one property or 20 cannot keep funding tenants who refuse to pay. Labour and the government fail to see that it is the landlord is is struggling in most cases.

  9. I totally agree I have I property to let and have rented it twice to dss tenants . Both times I have lost money on rent and ave had to bring property back to or al both times, which has cost me over £10000 in arears for the first tenant in rent and another £10000 to repair it total cost was £20000. The second tenant run the house down left by themselves with areArs of £4000 not including what it’s going to cost us to repair the property again.tenants left all their rubbish,damaged all floorings ceilings and walls with damp and garden is like a dump yard which is also another cost so it will cost me at least another £40000 to bring it back to a living standard. If we don’t make payments we will probably loose the house even after the holiday break. What is the government doing for landlords like us. NOTHING! As we have no rights just get bad credit rating for no fault of ours. GREAT! Thats what you get for working had in life to lose it because of someone else who you tried to help but that’s the medal/ gratitude you get. I say a BIG THANKS TO THE GOVERNMENT GOOD WORK . There are a lot more people like us who are in the same situation.

  10. It’s just an awful situation for landlords. My tenant has given up his job of his own accord and now feels that due to covid he should have to pay any rent . He hasn’t paid for months and the house from what little I have been able to see has turned into a doss house. It’s going to cost me thousands to put right and that’s if I can get him out this year! I will never rent it out again I would rather leave it empty

  11. I speak as a tenant. I have found the stories above of landlords suffering some appalling tenants, very troubling. We have let property in the past, and know only too well what it is to have good paying and responsible tenants.
    In the last year covid has hit us, including a death, and children stuck overseas. And saddled with a S.21 served in February 2020. Which has since gone to court.,Aand we now have a possession order to leave by April 12th.
    For 7 years we have paid the rent on time every month. We have looked after the property with the care and attention as if it were our own. But I have not been able to claim furlough; so we have built up 4 months of arrears in the last year. Our landlord, far from enquiring of our circumstances last year and if we’d been affected by covid, as directed to by the Government, even turned up in lockdown, unannounced/no 24hr notice, to ask when we were going to leave. And when we were going to catch up with the missing rent. And he himself was supposed to be self isolating in South Wales! So, he managed to break covid regulations in not one but two countries at the same time! Having told him how covid had affected us, he subsequently put on the possession application form to the court, that he had no knowledge of if/how covid had affected nyself/our family! What dishonesty!
    He shows absolutely NO thought and consideration for us tenants in what we have been through, and our current circumstances of having to move out and find alternative rental accomodation, while we have a national public health crisis with covid still rampant across the country. He pays not the slightest attention to the Government’s cautious easing of lockdown. He just wants us out as soon as possible; at whatever consequence to us. Totally disgusting. And his solicitor is just as bad.
    This has all happened under the accelerated court procedure of a S.21. Readers on this page: ask yourselves – is this the right and proper way to treat a responsible and diligent tenant of 7 years who’s always paid rent on time? Is this the way to treat fellow human beings in the grip of a pandemic, when the Government has expressly told landlords to both care for and work with their tenants to come to arrangements for them to be safe in their homes and paying what they can towards the rent, in 21st century UK?
    We have the most appalling type of landlord, who would be best described as some throw back to the 19th century or before! Sadly, there are many tenants across the country who have been, or who are currently at the mercy of these irresponsible, inconsiderate, inhumane and disreputable landlords. The sooner the likes of them are out of the lettings industry altogether and S.21 abolished, the better for all. Other countries seem to manage residential letting far more successfully. Why can’t we in the UK? Why does our industry still have these appalling landlords in 2021?

    • I sympathise with your predicament, John. However, I would like to say that you have no way of knowing how the four months of arrears have affected your landlord. He may rely on your rent in the absence of other income. He may have financial obligations of which you know nothing. You don’t look at his bank statements, do you? This man is clearly desperate to possess his property so that he can either sell it to release the capital or install a tenant who is able to pay, and thus restore his income. You also need to bear in mind that the government has provided NO ASSISTANCE for landlords in his situation, as it considers rental property to be an investment rather than a business. Instead, it has imposed and extended the stay on evictions, and increased the possession notice periods, which is tantamount to kicking an injured man when he is down. The landlord can’t sell the house at the moment, as it has a sitting tenant, and who in their right mind would buy it? Neither can he claim any benefits as he owns a property in which he is not resident. Try to see the argument from both sides.
      You also need to note that you wouldn’t get away with taking a trolley load of groceries from the supermarket without paying, whatever your circumstances, and food is just as essential as shelter. It would be considered as theft, which is a criminal offence. So that being the case, why do people think they can take accommodation from their landlord without paying?

    • Very sorry that you are in such a terrible situation.

      Could it be the case, like similar to many landlords of late, with thanks to the all the barrage of hate, red tape and increased taxes, but more so with the expectations that tenants always comes 1st, definitely over any landlord issues!

      Yes, be it their mental health, their debt/money problems – even if this then directly effects their own home, whatever the case: sod landlords, there’s no worries lost for any landlords plight.

      As it’s tenants we should protect and worry about, knowing that the prs isn’t the flowing riches that some are lead to believe, far from it, some landlords never break even, with profits that usual means more debt; having to be reinvested – unfortunately many landlords are only 1 rouge tenant away from imploding.

      Obviously, all this has got many landlords looking for any way out – fast, sadly, I don’t blame them, it’s not worth the recent stress, with practically government sanction theft.

      Although, any breach should never happen, if you can prove it – report it.

      Same for turning up without warning, even a simple text to arrange, if this wasn’t sent – use it against landlord.

      Get in touch with shelter, they’ll love the chance of further landlord bashing.

      Yes, very sorry to hear about your troubles, a truly horrible situation, but as I’ve stated, there are many landlords that are desperate to get out of the now strangulation prs, again, don’t blame them, sorry.

  12. I have sold 3 rental properties in the last 12 months. No point of letting anymore, especially to any DSS tenant The large risk no longer justifies the very small profit (sometimes loss), after expenses.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here