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Landlords must prepare for Universal Credit roll out

Sally Walmsley
Written by Sally Walmsley

The roll out of Universal Credit continues apace, with tax expert Bill Irvine warning landlords they must be prepared if they have tenants who rely on benefits to pay their rent.
The Department for Work and Pensions has announced that the digital system will be rolled out from May this year in Bath, Newcastle, Rugby, Bridgewater and Lowestoft.
A further 25 Job Centre Plus (JCP) areas will be added between July to December, with the expectation that all JCP areas will be completed by June 2018.

The roll out of Universal Credit continues apace, with tax expert Bill Irvine warning landlords they must be prepared if they have tenants who rely on benefits to pay their rent.

The Department for Work and Pensions has announced that the digital system will be rolled out from May this year in Bath, Newcastle, Rugby, Bridgewater and Lowestoft.

A further 25 Job Centre Plus (JCP) areas will be added between July to December, with the expectation that all  JCP areas will be completed by June 2018.

The move is significant, in that in most areas claims have been restricted to single “working age” adults, whereas the digital system deals with all claimant types including couples, couples with children, single parents, people with disabilities and those working full and part-time.

So far in areas where Universal Credit has been introduced a significant number of landlords – 50-60% have been able to negotiate direct payments. However full implementation of the system could see problems arise around a range of issues, from Alternative Payment Arrangements, backdating of claims and overpayments to situations arising from couples splitting up and households combining.

Bill, who delivers training courses on Universal Credit on behalf of the RLA said: “Clearly, this represents a major step forward for DWP and Universal Credit’s future.

“Social and private landlords, in the areas identified, can expect a significant increase in Universal Credit claims from all tenant types, as the “gateway” conditions that currently apply to restrict claims to mainly single men are effectively removed. “

Bill said that many social and private landlords in the Manchester, Liverpool and Wirral areas, where Universal Credit is already in operation, received only one months notice before implementation and has advised landlords not to get caught napping.

He said: “Being prepared should now be a priority if you’re a landlord heavily engaged in Local Housing Allowance type tenancies. You need to be fully conversant with these new and sometimes very complex issues.

“​Don’t anticipate assistance from DWP, as to date, it has operated at arms-length, is quite ambivalent to tenant/landlord enquiries/complaints and recently banned landlords from utilising its “Complaints Process” when trying to secure compensation for wholly avoidable rental loss.

“If you’d like to find out more about Universal Credit then I’d encourage you to attend one of the RLA’s training courses  in London, Manchester or Birmingham.”

For Bill’s latest bulletins on Universal Credit click here.

About the author

Sally Walmsley

Sally Walmsley

Sally Walmsley is the Communications Manager for the RLA and award-winning Editor of RPI magazine. With 16 years’ experience writing for regional and national newspapers and magazines she is responsible for producing articles for our Campaigns and News Centre, the weekly E-News newsletter and editorial content for our media partners.

She issues press releases promoting the work of the RLA and its policies and campaigns to the regional and national media and works alongside the marketing team on the association’s social media channels to build support for the RLA and its work.

2 Comments

  • I’ve had no payment from my tenant since jan 10th due to change of circumstances she was put on Universal Credit its now march and its been a right nightmare no one will tell you what’s going on even though I qualified for rent to come to me inc arrears and they wont speak to you unless you have tenants DOB and national Ins number they also ask other info.
    Not one of them know what there doing I was told I’d receive a payment on 17th march and didn’t get it.
    I rang up yesterday and they told me my task was due to complete at 10am this morning and I’d get a phone call which I did and was told ill get a pyment next tue I will only get £450 so where the hell has the other money gone what was due to me.

    There like bodyguards to the tenants and it makes me so mad I will never take another Universal Credit tenant again absolute digrace I’m nearly 2k down.

    The stress they cause landlords we still have to pay our mtges

  • I have a single man as a tenant. He is a jobbing builder so has sporadic work and in between contracts he claims housing benefits. On his last claim he was told he would be put on to Universal Credit. He told them his next rent due date was 28th April giving them plenty of time to pay. Eventually he was told his next payment would not be until 12th May then 4 weekly thereafter. When he said that would make him two weeks late with his rent their answer was, so……… Really!!

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