The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) have published an important document online about Universal Credit (UC) and housing costs. It’s probably worth any landlord having a look at this, even if they don’t normally accept tenants on Housing Benefit, (HB). Potentially, any tenant could one day receive Universal Credit; even if they work full time its unlikely that their job is bullet proof against redundancy or that they have a lifetime guarantee against unemployment. UC will also affect many working tenants. It will replace the tax credits they receive and some tenants in low paid employment might receive partial HB as a top-up towards their rent. Very often landlords aren’t even aware that these tenants are claiming HB.
The main concern for landlords is of course, security of payment. The part of UC intended to cover housing costs will be rolled up with the rest of the entitlement and paid direct to the claimant. In most cases, there will be no option to have rent paid direct to the landlord. However, the DWP have put some safeguards in place to deal with non-payment of rent and arrears issues. These are explained in the DWP document “Universal Credit and rented housing: Frequently asked questions.” I won’t try and summarise it; its 11 pages long and has a lot of ‘ifs’ ‘buts’ and qualifications, which makes breaking it down into handy bullet points a bit tricky.
But do please have a look, especially at page 8, which goes into detail about arrears policies and protecting the rent. If you have a more specialist interest, it also links to other important documents, including the general regulations for UC. Please do look out for more posts on this blog about UC. If you’re not a follower of the blog yet and just a casual visitor, please consider signing up to ‘follow’ so that you get the updates sent to you automatically.