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Landlord Legal Issues - November 2021

Landlord & tenant lawyer, Tessa Shepperson of www.landlordlaw.co.uk answers your questions

Q. My tenant, who is in arrears of rent, has told me I can’t take any action as he is applying for a ‘breathing space’ in respect of his debts. Does this mean I can’t serve any possession notices on him?

A. A ‘breathing space’ is an order made under The Debt Respite Scheme (Breathing Space Moratorium and Mental Health Crisis Moratorium) (England and Wales) Regulations 2020, which came into effect earlier this year.

If there is no breathing space order in place, then you can certainly serve notices. A breathing space order (for debt cases) can only be made by a debt adviser regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority – it cannot be done just on the tenants say so. Even if the order is made, the tenant must as a condition of this, make ongoing payments (i.e. pay their rent going forward).

So, if you have not had formal notification of an order, then this may just be the tenant trying it on. However, if an order is made, then you will not be able to take any action regarding that debt. There is government guidance on breathing spaces online at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/debt-respite-scheme-breathing-space-guidance/debt-respite-scheme-breathing-space-guidance-for-creditors.  

Q. I have a large house where I rent out several flats. One of my tenants has asked if he could rent one of the other flats too and sublet it to his friend.  What sort of agreement should I use for this? Is an AST agreement suitable?

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