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A new scheme gives tenants extra protection, says Nigel Maguire, of Ashtons Legal

Since March 2020 the Government has introduced a raft of protections to protect tenants from financial difficulty caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

These protections extend to restrictions on possessions in both residential and commercial properties, and use of enforcement agents to seize goods against commercial rent arrears.

As well as trying to protect the landlord and tenant relationship, there are general restrictions on the use of insolvency procedures against companies for debts owed (to include rent arrears) during, or as a result of, the coronavirus pandemic.

Nigel Maguire, Ashtons Legal
Nigel Maguire, Ashtons Legal

A further restriction came into play on Tuesday (May 4), the Debt Respite Scheme (Breathing Space). This scheme is not linked to the coronavirus pandemic, it is not temporary and it is there to give individuals time to sort their affairs out free from enforcement action.

The scheme offers two types of Breathing Space to individuals – a standard Breathing Space and a Mental Health Crisis Breathing Space:

  • Standard Breathing Space gives up to 60 days protection to individuals from enforcement action and contact from creditors and will freeze interest and charges on debts over this period.
  • The Mental Health Crisis Breathing Space is available to an individual receiving mental health crisis treatment. It lasts as long as the person’s mental health crisis treatment plus an additional 30 days.

A Breathing Space can only be implemented by a Debt Advice Provider, authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority or a local authority.

During the Breathing Space, a landlord must not apply penalties or charges in respect of the arrears. Further, all contact with the debtor to request payment of the debt must cease, unless permission has been secured by a court.

Ashtons Legal
Ashtons Legal

A solicitor can can help landlords with bad debts against tenants and other property disputes.

-- Nigel Maguire, Ashtons Legal (Telephone: 01223 431103; Email: nigel.maguire@ashtonslegal.co.uk)

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