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Resources roundup: Breathing Space

Posted on 17/05/21

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

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. 

For professionals

Shelter Legal has two pages on breathing space and housing.

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 has two articles on breathing space and insolvency.

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

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.

For the public

The Housing Matters factsheet Breathing space: get time to deal with rent arrears.

Shelter Housing Advice page: Breathing space: a scheme to help with debts.

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 will need a form to be completed by a mental health professional.

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

Legislation

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

Guidance

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

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