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Breathing space: toolkit

Posted on 17/05/21 in Housing Matters

Breathing space: toolkit

Breathing space prevents creditors, including landlords and mortgage lenders, from taking action against people in debt who are not able to pay.

Breathing space and mental health crisis moratoriums

Breathing space allows for a 60 day debt respite period for a person in debt, called a moratorium. During the moratorium creditors cannot take enforcement action and most interest and charges on debts are frozen.

A person in debt who is experiencing a mental health crisis can have a longer debt respite period that lasts as long as the person's specialist mental health treatment, plus 30 days.

Types of debt included in the moratorium are rent and mortgage arrears, personal loan and credit card debt, benefit overpayments and council tax debt.

During a moratorium landlords and lenders cannot take enforcement action in relation to a debt included in the moratorium. This includes bringing a claim for possession or enforcing an eviction warrant

The following resources will help you understand how the scheme works and how it can benefit people in debt facing eviction or homelessness. 

Resources for professionals

Shelter Legal 

Shelter Legal is an online guide to housing law for professionals. Topics covered include homelessness, possession proceedings, and debt. .

Breathing space debt moratorium and possession proceedings explains the impact of the regulations on the possession process. It includes information about the eligibility criteria.

Breathing space and landlord notices in possession proceedings breaks down the regulations by tenancy type and explains which notices can’t be given during the moratorium.

Housing Matters 

Housing Matters articles are written by practitioners and include commentary, practical advice, case law updates and discussion of key legal issues.

Breathing space: arrears and eviction explains how breathing space can be used by anyone helping people in rent or mortgage arrears.

Mental health crisis moratoriums: one year is an interview with Darren Caisley, a mental health and money adviser at Rethink Mental Illness. Darren talks about mental health crisis moratoriums under the Debt Respite Scheme and his role in the case of Lees v Kaye, where the High Court reinstated a leaseholder who was evicted during a moratorium.

Tenant insolvency and rent arrears explains the effect on rent arrears and possession proceedings when a tenant becomes bankrupt or subject to a debt relief order.

Resources for the public

NHAS factsheets

Our easy-to-read factsheets for the public can be printed and shared.

They include:

  • Breathing space: get time to deal with rent arrears
  • Mental health crisis moratoriums
  • How to deal with priority debts

You can find these and more on our factsheets page.

Shelter Housing Advice

Shelter's housing advice pages for the public have information on homelessness, renting, money problems, and eviction.

The advice is clear, accurate and easy to understand. Pages can be printed and shared by email.

Breathing space: a scheme to help with debts explains how the scheme works, how it can help with rent arrears, and how it can stop or delay an eviction. 

Debt advice providers

Debt advice providers include:

National Debtline - 0808 800 4000

Citizens Advice - 0800 144 8848

Stepchange - 0800 138 1111

Payplan - 0800 280 2816

Applications for a mental health moratorium are dealt with by the charity Rethink.

The person in debt needs a a mental health professional to fill out a form.

The application can be made by email by the person in debt or someone acting on their behalf.


The Debt Respite Scheme (Breathing Space Moratorium and Mental Health Crisis Moratorium) (England and Wales) Regulations 2020 SI 2020/1311

Financial Guidance and Claims Act 2018


The Insolvency Service has produced guidance for creditors and money advisers.