The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has produced a FAQ document specifically aimed at Universal Credit and rented housing. [1]

Timescales of Universal Credit

The document explains the roll out of Universal Credit

… By spring 2014, Universal Credit will be rolled out to Jobcentres in Harrogate, Bath and Shotton.

From summer 2014 the new service will progressively start to take new claims for couples and, in the autumn, from families. Once it is safely tested Universal Credit will also expand to cover more of the North West of England. Our plans will allow us to make Universal Credit available in each part of Great Britain during 2016. New claims to existing benefits that Universal Credit replaces will close down, with the vast majority of the remaining claimants moving onto Universal Credit during 2016 and 2017.

Advice for landlords and getting rent paid

On paying the rent, the guidance suggests in anticipation of rollout that –

Landlords may want to encourage tenants who do not have a bank account to open one. Having access to a transactional account will help claimants manage their rent payments through direct debits or standing orders.

Direct payment to landlords

On the point of paying landlords direct in the event of arrears, the document states –

We would expect landlords to follow their usual rent collection practices. However, if the claimant is unable or unwilling to resolve payment issues, DWP will intervene.

Landlords should contact DWP on 0845 600 0723 when the tenant has accrued arrears to the value of one or two months rent.

  • When arrears reach the equivalent of one month’s rent, DWP will review the situation following notification from the landlord. At this point DWP can offer the claimant budgeting support and may decide to pay the rent directly to the landlord.

  • When arrears reach an equivalent of two month’s rent (the ‘trigger point’), an Alternative Payment Arrangement will be put in place to allow a managed payment to the landlord.

These measures will help to avoid the build up of excess levels of rent arrears and to reduce the risks to landlords.

Final comments

The document is a useful read for a very quick glance at some of the key basics of Universal Credit which might affect landlords. View the document here.

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