A benefits expert has urged the DWP’s working group to sort out problems with the Alternative Payment Arrangements (APA) process that leaves landlords in the dark and out of pocket.
The Private Rented Sector Universal Credit Engagement Group is due to meet next month for the first time since Covid, with the aim of giving organisations representing agents and landlords an opportunity to engage with the DWP over benefits and welfare in the PRS.
Before the pandemic, the group helped to improve the UC47 process (landlord request for direct payments of rent or rent arrears) so that forms can now be completed online rather than sent by post as well as to influence the questions that DWP work coaches ask claimants regarding their rent and landlord information.
However, Bill Irvine (pictured), at UC Advice & Advocacy, says for it to be meaningful, the group needs to act on the issues.
He tells LandlordZONE that landlords are continually frustrated by the APA process and that successful payments are a postcode lottery.
“Landlords don’t get a timeframe for the process and when they’re refused an APA, they are not told why, despite there being no reason to withhold this,” he explains.
While social landlords have an online portal, private landlords still struggle with forms, adds Irvine.
“When filling in the application, if you don’t know your tenant’s date of birth, you’re not able to continue, but landlords aren’t told that they could just input a random date. They should introduce something to overcome the problem.”
Propertymark has pushed to reopen the forum, and Timothy Douglas (pictured), head of policy and campaigns, says: “We hope that through re-engaging with the sector we can highlight to the Department for Work and Pensions further areas of reform including unfreezing Local Housing Allowance and suspension of the Shared Accommodation Rate to support claimants and renters.”