Hundreds of thousands of landlords across the UK who until now have not had to deal with Universal Credit must now learn quickly how to navigate the sometimes frustrating benefits system.
As the Department for Work and Pensions grapples with nearly one million new claimants, Caridon Landlord Solutions boss Sherrelle Collman reports that her firm has seen a surge of calls from landlords and letting agents asking advice about how the process works.
“Communicate with your tenant and support them as much as you possibly can,” advises Collman.
“Where possible, consider a rent reduction to meet the housing element of Universal Credit – some rent to help cover a mortgage is better than nothing, or if at all possible, offer a rent holiday.”
She says tenants will need a letter verifying their rent, address and tenancy dates, to help them qualify for the housing element of Universal Credit.
“Many tenants prefer to have the housing element of Universal Credit paid directly to the landlord. Landlords should discuss this with their tenants and if in agreement, fill out a UC-47 form to apply for this,” adds Collman.
She says many tenants starting to sign on will be anxious not just about the current situation, but because of the criticism the benefit has received.
“The good news is that more resources have been deployed to local authorities to help claimants, and measures such as immediate access to Advance Payments, increases to Universal Credit and raising the Local Housing Allowance rate to the 30th percentile of market rents from April, are being put in place.”