The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has issued a new guide that includes a helpline for landlords who have had their Universal Credit Alternative Payment Arrangement (APA) approved and whose tenants will still not communicate with them.
The new number 0345 600 4272 can be used by landlords in full service areas, sometimes referred to as ‘digital’ areas, who are unable to obtain the tenant’s co-operation when the ‘Managed Payment to Landlord Alternative Payment Arrangement’ is set up and in place.
They have told us that this number can be used by landlords ONLY once an alternative payment arrangement (landlord managed payment direct to the landlord) has been put in place.
This is because once this has happened DWP will have obtained the tenant’s explicit consent to disclose information about payments to the landlord.
It CANNOT be used for enquiries about applications for direct payment to the landlord which are still under consideration by DWP.
Under full service the tenant’s explicit consent is still needed before DWP can release information to the landlord about pending applications where the landlord managed payment has not yet been put in place.’
For landlords wishing to discuss a new APA that has recently been submitted the landlord still requires “explicit consent” from the tenant to discuss the claim with DWP. To set up and submit an ‘APA’ landlords should contact the Universal Credit Service Centre by telephoning: 0345 600 0723 or emailing email@example.com
The official Universal Credit guidance for landlords in full service areas that are still struggling with issues after the APA has been set up is,
- In the first instance engage with their tenant about the issue. The tenant has access to their own information via their online account and can share it with their landlord
- If more assistance is required the claimant can ask to share their personal information with their landlord or other representative via their online journal, face to face or by calling the service centre and giving explicit consent
- When contacting Universal Credit the claimant’s representative will be asked to confirm their identity so the case manager can speak to the landlord direct.
Earlier this summer DWP said it will address problems faced by landlords who house Universal Credit tenants following a meeting with the RLA.
RLA directors David Smith and Chris Town met with Caroline Dinenage MP, the new Minister responsible for housing cost support, to discuss issues including rent arrears and direct payments.
This came about after the RLA’s most recent quarterly survey showed 38% of landlords with tenants in receipt of UC had seen them fall into rent arrears in the past 12 months. With tenants owing an average of £1,600.
The RLA runs a course on Universal Credit, with dates currently available in Manchester and Leeds.
For more information and to book click here.