Universal Credit: a guide for landlords
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Universal Credit: a guide for landlords

We understand how important it is to build good relationships with your tenants. If you have a tenant that is claiming or needs to claim Universal Credit, you can help and support them along the way. You can find the ‘Universal Credit and rented housing: guide for landlords’ on gov.uk by searching ‘Universal Credit and landlords’ Depending on your tenant’s circumstances some may need more help than others. You can signpost your tenant to the Citizens Advice Help to Claim service by going to www.citizensadvice.org.uk/helptoclaim The Help to Claim service offers tailored, practical support to help people make a Universal Credit claim up to receiving their first full correct payment. It’s available online, through web-chat, via a Freephone number and face-to-face at local Citizens Advice offices. More information about receiving help making a claim can be found in the How to claim Universal Credit: step-by-step guide on gov.uk If a tenant is struggling with their income you can encourage them to make a claim for Universal Credit online, as quickly as possible. You can find out more about helping tenants prepare for Universal Credit in Section 2 of the Guide for Landlords. Once a tenant has made a claim to Universal Credit they’ll be asked to provide details of how much rent they pay and their landlord’s details. If your tenant doesn’t have the right documents, you may be able to help. More information can be found in Section 4 of the Guide for Landlords. It will take 5 weeks from the date the claim was made for the tenant to receive their first payment. If your tenant thinks they’ll struggle to pay their bills, including their rent, you can advise them to request a Universal Credit advance. Make sure the tenant knows that the advance has to be paid back from subsequent Universal Credit payments. If your tenant would like more information about advances they can visit gov.uk and search ‘Universal Credit Advances’ If your tenant is getting Housing Benefit prior to claiming Universal Credit, they may want to know what will happen to these payments. You can advise your tenant that they will continue to be paid Housing Benefit for 2 weeks when they move onto Universal Credit. The extra 2 weeks of Housing Benefit is paid automatically; it will not affect their Universal Credit payment and does not need to be paid back. If they have any further questions about this payment they can speak to their local council. Once a tenant is claiming Universal Credit they are responsible for paying their own rent. You may need to discuss payment options with your tenant. Options include the tenant setting up a standing order with their bank or the landlord setting up a Direct Debit for the rent to be paid direct. In cases where the Universal Credit housing costs does not cover the full rent payment, you can let your tenant know they may be able to apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment.
More information can be found on gov.uk by searching ‘Claiming Discretionary Housing Payments’
You may have a tenant who would benefit from putting in place an Alternative Payment Arrangement.
You can apply for your tenants housing costs to be paid directly to you from the start of the claim, if your tenant is vulnerable and/or in rent arrears.
For example, a tenant with addiction problems, learning difficulties or previously homeless. The direct payment of rent will be paid into the landlord’s bank account on the same day the tenant gets their Universal Credit. Landlords will receive a notification of who the money is for. For more information, see Section 8 of the Guide for Landlords. If you have a tenant that is two months or more behind with their rent you can request through DWP to make deductions from their Universal Credit payment. For more information, see Section 9 of the Guide for Landlords. Your tenant is responsible for keeping their claim up-to-date. They can report any changes in circumstances using their online account. As a landlord you may need to speak to your tenant’s case manager: You can speak to the case manager about a direct payment of rent by phoning the Universal Credit Service on 0800 328 5644. If you want to speak to the case manager about other aspects of the claim, you’ll need to ask your tenant to give consent via their journal. If you’re with your tenant and make a call to the Universal Credit helpline from the number registered on their account, you’ll be put straight through to their case manager. Your tenant can then give consent verbally and pass the phone to you; you might want to do this to help a vulnerable tenant with their claim. People on Universal Credit in Scotland can choose to have their rent paid direct to their landlord. Your tenant will be offered the choice through their Universal Credit online account. It will be offered at the start of their second assessment period. The offer will include further details about the choices they have and how they can take them up. For more information, visit gov.scot and search ‘Universal Credit Choices’ Further information about the topics covered in this video and more can be found in the Guide for Landlords. For more information visit gov.uk

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