Minister for Families, Supported Housing and Child Maintenance, Justin Tomlinson:
I understand that Universal Credit has felt like a huge cultural change for many letting agents, landlords and tenants.
Universal Credit is a flexible benefit that gives people more control over their working lives and their finances. Payment under Universal Credit is designed to mirror the world of work, to help make the transition into employment smoother. To support this, rent is paid directly to tenants rather than landlords. While everyone adjusts to the new system, I want to provide some simple pointers for letting agents and landlords to help support their tenants through the process.
- Housing payments are now included in a tenant’s Universal Credit claim, which means tenants are responsible for paying rent to their landlord directly.
Speak to your tenants early to make sure they know how much Universal Credit they will get towards their housing costs and are ready to pay their rent themselves.
- Agents and landlords can request tenant’s housing payments to be made directly.
If you have tenants who may struggle to pay their rent, are in rent arrears or are vulnerable, you can apply for their housing costs to be paid directly to you.
Tenants can also request for an alternative payment arrangement to be put in place by speaking to their work coach or case manager.
- Tenants who can’t wait for their first Universal Credit payment can apply for an advance to help with rent payments.
Claimants can get up to a 100% advance payment right from the start of their claim, and on the same day if needed. They can pay this back over 12 months.
- We introduced a two week ‘run-on’ earlier this year for those moving from Housing Benefit to Universal Credit.
Remind tenants who are moving from Housing Benefit to Universal Credit that they will receive an extra two weeks’ support for housing costs which they don’t need to pay back.
- The majority of tenants will need a bank account for their Universal Credit payments.
Encourage your tenants to set up direct debits or standing orders for their rent – it will help to make sure payments are made on time and support them in managing their money.
- Jobcentres have dedicated staff to support you – don’t miss out on this helpful resource.
Get to know your local partnership manager – you can get all sorts of advice and guidance on Universal Credit from them. Jobcentres can also hold regular landlord forums or provide other opportunities for discussion about how the system is working for you.
More information for landlords and agents, including how housing costs are worked out, can be found here: www.understandinguniversalcredit.gov.uk/landlords