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‘Substantial arrears’ threshold stays at six months says government

Housing minister Chris Pincher has confirmed that the definition of ‘substantial arrears’ for the purposes of possession orders and evictions will remain at six months.

The ‘substantial arrears’ definition has become critical for possession orders in the past year.

For most of 2020 landlords could seek possession orders only against tenants with at least nine months’ rent arrears built up before March 23 2020 - the date of the first Coronavirus national lockdown.


However, recently this has been amended to six months rather than nine, and it was no longer required that those arrears had to be accumulated before last March, so arrears built up during lockdowns could be included.

Various campaigners wanted the nine month pre-March 2020 threshold reinstated but now housing minister Christ Pincher has confirmed that the government won’t amend the definition of ‘substantial arrears’ back to nine months.

He made the announcement in a response to Caroline Lucas, the Green Party MP for Brighton, who asked in a written Parliamentary question whether the nine month term could be restored.

Pincher’s response said there were no plans to drop the new six month threshold.

“The government believes that it is proportionate to widen the rent arrears exemption to the ban on the enforcement of residential evictions to cases where a court is satisfied that a possession order was granted on the grounds of rent arrears and where more than six months of rent is outstanding” he wrote.

“This change is intended to balance the effect of the ongoing restrictions on landlords with the need to continue to protect tenants.”

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    Maybe the substantial rent arrears should be turned around and an equivalent delay (six months) in salaries payment to our parasitic, unbalanced thinking, elected reps should be in force and then see how they react. Alternatively they can legislate for lenders to stay ANY ACTION until similar period 6-9 months arrears has built up. This they will never do as most of their buddies are in lender institutions!! Also why do the fair and correct action when they can irrationally penalise LLs.

  • PossessionFriendUK PossessionFriend

    Would like to see M.P's salary delayed for 6 Months - good call.

  • Algarve  Investor

    I think landlords and letting agents need to face the reality, and most probably already have, that they won't be able to evict for the rest of this year. And will find it very hard to claim back rental arrears, with so many protections in place, including the new Breathing Space scheme.

    Time to look for alternatives, for those who need to evict. Maybe landlords need to ask themselves do I need to evict or regain possession? How necessary is it? Can I sell with sitting tenants?

    Would be good to see the results of the mediation pilot - sounds like a good idea in practice. I also thought the NRLA's suggestion (?) that a new model is set-up to prevent the majority of eviction cases going to court was a sensible and shrewd one. Only the most severe cases should really be heading to court anyway, you would have thought, and I think the whole system - slow, cumbersome, frustrating, complicated - needs to be rethought and overhauled.

    Chucking the end of Section 21 and the introduction of lifetime deposits onto the fire doesn't seem like the most sensible decision at present, but that seems to be the government's intention.


    Selling with non-paying tenants? Don't see that working and think it a bit mean to pass your problem on to an unsuspecting LL!

  • George Dawes

    Then they’ll move the goalposts as winter sets in and the corona scam gets into gear again

    Algarve  Investor

    You keep saying this - in what way is coronavirus a scam? Do you not believe it's real? Do you think it's all conspiracy dreamt up by Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates? Is it something to do with 5G?

  • George Dawes

    For a virus with a 98.5% survival rate that only affects over 80’s with underlying health conditions

    Yes , I call that a scam

    No flu cases this year how convenient ... and if you die of anything within 28 days of a Covid test they put your death down as Covid .. anything ...


    Its not the death rate that is the problem, its the toll on the NHS! Have you been to a hospital this year? Or been waiting for an operation? We have to get on top of the virus for all our sakes is we want treatment in hospital for anything else in the next decade!

  • icon

    rubbish--most hospitals are less busy than 12 months ago


    As someone with 2 family members who work in NHS hospitals I can confirm this is not just fake news but in fact simply a lie. It's idiots like you spreading fake news that is contributing to the death toll.

  • icon

    covid 19 may not exist--never been isolated

    oxford vaccine is based on corona cols virus

    3 jurisdictions have ruled cv19 does not exist

  • icon

    Actually had the audacity to campaign from 6 month to 9 month.... these socialist free loafers need a good...

  • Matthew Payne

    All semantics for the press and the man on the clapham omnibus, in practice it makes no difference at all to gaining possession.

  • icon

    Section 21 should be Re-instated and the 2015 De-Regulation Act by Shelter Scrapped which they brought in when they failed in collusion with Sarah Tether Private Members Bill and should never have happened, where by the Tenant could damage the Property to claim disrepair to avoid eviction it could be just interfere with the Boiler would suffice which I believe has happened. Deposit Passport nonsense its like forcing Tenants to be involved with Deposits even if LL don't want Deposit which I don't, because the implications of the Deposit Schemes is a bigger encumbrance than no Deposit that's saying something, it was never my money anyway just minding it for them temporarily. The way Deposit worked well before all this interference which was the best way. When the Tenants were leaving you gave them back their Deposit and they gave you back the keys simple and done, not involving all those outside parties to muck it up & delay everything, then the Tenant waiting weeks after they left to get a reduced Deposit back because by now all the quango's are involved & so many other costs have been incurred and everyone trying to cut their losses.

  • Fredy Jones

    Some questions about breathing space.......

    1. Could you still be cut off from utilities/broadband if you successfully qualify for breathing space?

    2. What happens to tenants who have their court case come up and the LL gets a possession order, but the tenants qualify for breathing space?

  • Paul Jones

    Does this same rule apply to to wales?


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