Helpful Tips Rhianna Abrey 14/05/2021

Mental health awareness week: Breathing spaces and mental health

Landlords and tenants have been put under significant pressure during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Many have lost  income and some lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic, causing significant stress which is in turn impacting their mental health.

After recent NRLA research showed 40% of landlords believe the Covid-19 pandemic has had a ‘negative or very negative’ impact on their mental health the NRLA has put together a webpage signposting landlords to organisations which can help them.

The Government has also stepped in with a new scheme to support tenants struggling with debt - and the stresses related to that.

Its new scheme, ‘Breathing Space’ offers a ‘break’ from creditors – during which time the the tenant works with debt advisers to figure out a way to pay off the money they owe in a manageable way.

Creditors are being urged to see that bigger picture, that while the debt might not paid immediately, the tenant does want - and intend - to make payments, and is doing something about it.

How does the scheme work?

Breathing Space, also known as the Debt Respite Scheme, allows people in England and Wales with unsustainable debts to arrange to enter a ‘breathing space’.

This bans creditors – including landlords – from contacting them and taking enforcement action for the length of the Breathing Space. This is 60 days for a ‘standard’ breathing space.

In that time they work out a payment plan or alternative solution to their problems.

Mental Health Crisis Breathing Space

There is a second type of Breathing Space for people deemed to be suffering a mental health crisis.

A Mental Health Crisis Breathing Space can last for much longer – up to 30 days after a programme of treatment ends.

These are expected to be used less frequently than the standard Breathing Space – and will be implemented in the most serious of cases where the tenant is:

  • detained in hospital under the Mental Health Act 1983
  • moved under the powers given to the police under the same act.
  • receiving crisis, acute or emergency treatment or care in hospital, or in the community, from a specialist mental health service in relation to a mental disorder of a serious nature.

Support for landlords

Although landlords are not eligible to apply for a Breathing Space there are organisations that can help with free advice if they are struggling with debt.

Free advice is available from Government-backed agencies including:


More information

  • For more detailed information on tenants’ eligibility criteria, compliance, FAQs and best practice visit our Breathing Spaces guide here.
  • Tenant debt and Breathing Space are also addressed in our latest podcast. For more information and to listen click here.
  • To access the NRLA’s  mental health webpage click here.