A standard breathing space is available to any individual with problem debt and gives them legal protections from creditor action for up to 60 days.
“The protections include pausing most enforcement action and contact from creditors and freezing most interest and charges on their debts” says the government guidance.
As a creditor (or landlord with a tenant in this situation), if you’re told that a debt owed to you is in a breathing space, you must stop all action related to that debt and apply the protections. These protections must stay in place until the breathing space ends.
As a creditor, you get a notification to tell you about each debt owed to you in a breathing space and the date the breathing space started. You need to make sure you apply the protections to these debts from the date set out in the notification.
Individuals can access this standard breathing space – which the government states “is not a payment holiday” – only through an approved debt adviser registered with the Financial Conduct Authority, or via a local authority if it is approved to offer this kind of advice to its residents.
An individual who applies for such a ‘space’ can get no more than one a year.
A mental health crisis breathing space is only available to a client who is receiving recognised mental health crisis treatment. If an approved mental health professional certifies a client is in mental health crisis treatment, the client or someone else might ask for a mental health crisis breathing space on the client’s behalf.
The mental health crisis breathing space has some stronger protections than the standard breathing space. It lasts as long as the client’s mental health crisis treatment, plus 30 additional days thereafter, no matter how long the crisis treatment lasts.
Again, if you’re a creditor – that is, a landlord with arrears owed – and if you’re told that a debt owed to you is in a breathing space, you must stop all action related to that debt and apply the protections.
These protections must stay in place until the breathing space ends.
From a landlord perspective, if you receive a notification of a breathing space debt that you have sold to another creditor – so lets say, you have sold your buy to let property to another investor – you must tell that creditor the breathing space has started and give their contact details to the debt adviser.