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New Government Protection for Tenants in Rent Arrears

New Government protection for tenants in rent arrears could stop landlords regaining possession of your home and eviction by the court bailiffs.

Tenants in rent arrears could now benefit from new Government protection under the debt respite scheme. The protection gives eligible individuals a "breathing space" to help manage their finances, find a sustainable solution to their debts, and to reduce the impact on their mental health. The protection can stop a landlord from taking enforcement action against their tenant. This includes serving notice to take possession of a property due to rent arrears, starting any action or legal proceedings, or taking possession of a property.

Eligible individuals with a qualifying debt can apply for a breathing space through an authorised debt advise provider or a local authority. Most debts, including rent and service charge arrears, are likely to be qualifying debts. Other examples include credit cards, personal loans, and overdrafts. The protection also stops creditors from applying penalties, charges, and interest to the breathing space debt(s). However, continuing liability for rent payments are not qualifying debts and should still be paid to the landlord during the breathing space period.

Tenants can benefit from a 60-day breathing space from action being taken by their landlord if the debt adviser is satisfied that the applicant cannot, or is unlikely to, repay all or some of their debt and that a breathing space is appropriate. Applicants receiving mental health crisis treatment will have access to a similar breathing space for as long as their treatment lasts, plus an additional 30 days.

Tenants who have been served notice and are at risk of losing their home should contact Swain & Co Solicitors to discuss what help we can offer. Many households on benefits or a low income could benefit from funding through the Legal Aid Agency. Free legal advice is also available from Swain & Co to tenants under the housing possession court duty scheme.

Tenants in rent arrears should consider contacting a debt advice provider, such as the Citizens Advice Bureau, to discuss if they are eligible and qualify for protection under the debt respite scheme. Further information on breathing space can be found online at – https://england.shelter.org.uk/housing_advice/debt_and_money_problems/breathing_space_scheme

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