More than a third of private landlords with tenants receiving Universal Credit say they are owed rent, up by over 10 percentage points since last year.
According to a recent RLA survey of almost 3,000 landlords, of those with Universal Credit claimants as tenants, 38 per cent reported experiencing tenants going into rent arrears. In February 2016 that figure was 27 per cent.
The RLA’s research has found that the average amount owed in rent arrears by Universal Credit tenants to private sector landlords is now £1,150.
With the government set to increase the pace at which Universal Credit is rolled out across the country from next month, the RLA is warning of a ticking time bomb – and is now calling for urgent reform.
The association wants measures introduced to cut the seven-week waiting period that claimants currently face before they can begin to receive Universal Credit payments.
It also wants the government to to make it easier and quicker for payments to be made directly to the landlord where tenant arrears are building up.
RLA Vice Chairman, Chris Town, said: “Whilst we continue to welcome the principle of simplifying the benefit system, it cannot be right that as it is currently designed, Universal Credit is leading many more tenants into rent arrears.
“This is not financially responsible and does nothing to encourage landlords to house people needing to claim benefit.
“We have already met with the Minister and are heartened that the department understands the need to address the problem of rent arrears. With just weeks to go before the roll out of Universal Credit gathers pace we need action sooner rather than later.”
To view the RLA guide to Universal Credit and the way it operates click here.
The RLA runs a course on Universal Credit including information on how the benefit is assessed and paid, changes that will affect the award and payments, rental income and rent arrears control. For information and to book click here.
For more information on the RLA’s research work visit the new Private renting Evidence, Analysis & Research Lab (PEARL) here.