Joe is a lettings manager in Moston, Manchester. For the past nine years many of the properties that he manages have been let out to tenants in receipt of housing benefit, including Universal Credit Here, Joe blogs about his experiences of renting out properties to tenants who are in receipt of Universal Credit.
Open up a newspaper or turn on the news, and most days there is likely to be a story about Universal Credit. It is a topic that is rarely out of the headlines.
As a letting agent with hundreds of tenants on our books, many of whom are in receipt of Universal Credit-just from hearing about some of the experiences I can understand why.
Let me be clear. Landlords are just as likely to have an issue with a private tenant as they are with a tenant who claims housing benefit, and not all tenants who are in receipt of Universal Credit struggle with rent arrears.
However in my experience, there has been a significant increase in tenants who are in receipt of Universal Credit going into rent arrears, with many vulnerable tenants living on the breadline.
When it was announced last year that landlords and agents could receive direct payments, it really was a step in the right direction.
However, I still find that sometimes it has taken me over two months to be awarded a direct payment, meanwhile since the switch to Universal Credit, the tenant has fallen into arrears.
It can also often take up to 5 weeks for a Universal Credit claim to receive payment, meaning the tenant has no money for over a month. Whilst they can apply for an advance, this is taken out of their allowance over 12 months, placing vulnerable people further into debt.
The recent announcement by the Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd, that there is to be a new online system for landlords to apply for direct payments– is fantastic news. It’s something the RLA campaigned for and proves that the concerns of agents and landlords like me are being listened to by those in positions of power.
It is a positive step and I look forward to seeing how this will make things easier for myself and for other landlords and agents.
It’s also so important for landlords and agents who have experiences of renting properties to people on Universal Credit to share their experiences-through the RLA and the DWP. Because it is only by doing this that we can effect real changes for the better.
Joe’s media appearances
Joe often gives interviews to the media about his experiences of Universal Credit. He has previously done interviews for national television and radio stations and national newspapers, including Sky News, BBC Radio Four and The Sun.
RLA research on Universal Credit
The RLA’s research lab, PEARL conducts research into welfare reform and Universal Credit. One of the most recent reports published in October 2018 by RLA PEARL into Universal Credit found that almost two thirds of private landlords with tenants receiving Universal Credit, have experienced them going into rent arrears. You can read this research and more of the key findings from the report here.