The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) has been criticised once again for the way it pays Universal Credit (UC) direct to tenants and in arrears, causing problems for landlords.

Property industry trade association ARLA Propertymark says paying UC in arrears makes it impossible for many tenants to pay their rent on time and that it is time the government ensures “UC is adequate and more effective”.

Its comments, which are unusually forthright for an organisation that is not usually keen to publicly challenge government policy and performance, follows last month’s Equality Act 2010 court win for Shelter.

It secured damages of £4,500 plus costs for house hunter Hayleigh Pearce, who was told by Brighton letting agency Michael Jones & Company that she could not view a property because she was in receipt of benefits.

UC problems

Propertymark says the problem is not so much the blanket ‘No DSS’ bans operated by some agencies, but the reluctance of landlords to get involved in the often labyrinthine UC payments system.

As LandlordZONE has reported many times in the past, landlords struggle to persuade the DWP to pay UC’s housing element direct to them even when the tenant is co-operative, and that tenants spend their housing element before it can be passed to their landlord, leading to rent arrears.

“ARLA Propertymark is a member of the DWP Universal Credit Private Rented Sector Strategic Landlord Group and has worked hard to lobby for change to improve how Universal Credit works in the private rented sector,” a statement says.

The organisation is calling for direct payments to landlords to be made easier to organise, for payments to be more flexible to help tenants budget, and that tenants should not have to wait five weeks to get their first UC rental payment.


  1. Not only provide free accommodation the Government want landlords to be social workers shepherding tenants through the yes, labyrinthine, Housing Benefits and the rest processes all while receiving nothing for weeks, months. Not acceptable, it has gone on for too long, I am not prepared to be a whipping boy for the Government providing free housing and with no hope of being paid for doing the same.

  2. Most landlords consider ‘DSS’ to be those who are not in any employment. These tenants are high risk. To avoid these high risk tenants landlords will simply put ‘work references essential’ in the advert and put the rent up to above LHA rates. Landlords are not obliged to take on risky tenants, nor are they obliged to continue to be landlords. Other investments are available.

  3. Govt would make accepting DSS tenants by LL a lot easier if they changed a few simple things.

    Allow DSS tenants to have their rent deducted from their total UC IRRESPECTIVE of their HB element.

    Remove ‘clawback’ possibilities from LL where direct payments of the the full contractual rent are made UNLESS it can be proven the LL was complicit with UC fraud.

    Allow the Council to give a quote as to the likely UC with a review based on the known applicant circumstances WITHOUT the need to produce a VALID AST.

    To pay HB in advance by 4 weeks rather than in arrears.

    To maintain HB payments as at initial tenancy commencement even if alleged changed circumstances have been detected by the DWP.

    Await investigation.

    There are many other changes that need to be made.

    But those mentioned above will attract LL to offer to DSS tenants.

    Most LL only state state No DSS which is nothing to do with the DSS tenants themselves; it is entirely because of the dysfunctional UC and eviction process.


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