On the 28th of February 2020, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has updated the guidance, on Universal Credit.
The intention is to help landlords, deal with tenants, who receive benefits.
This guide is our condensed version for private landlords and tenants.
Introduction Universal Credit
Tenants who are on Universal Credit, have an online Universal Credit account to manage their claim. Tenants can now use their account, to do things like; report changes, communicate online with DWP, should they require support or guidance.
This guidance will help landlords and tenants understand and prepare for:
- Tenants move to the single Universal Credit benefit payment
- The procedure of how to make rent payments directly to their landlord
The guidance explains, other options if the tenant is finding it hard to manage their Universal Credit payment. As an alternative, the rent can be paid directly to the landlord.
- Consider how Universal Credit may affect their business.
- Think about how they might need to adopt any policies or change there procedure.
- Engage with there tenants early, if a tenant is struggling to pay the rent.
- Helping tenants prepare for Universal Credit
Universal Credit is primarily an online system, set up so tenants can claim online. This is efficient and speeds up the process, for the landlord, and tenant.
Alternatively, tenants can use the jobcentre to process there claim for Universal Credit.
Landlords can read the Universal Credit and you guide, which all tenants receive when they initiate a Universal Credit claim.
Universal Credit payments
Ordinarily, Universal Credit is a single, monthly payment. Universal Credit is paid, in arrears, directly into the tenant’s bank account. The first payment is usually received, one month and seven days, after a tenant submit their claim.
Tenants will be responsible for paying the rent, to the landlord, unless they are unable to manage their finances, effectively. In such cases, a Managed Payment, to the landlord can be put in place.
DWP checks on rent and tenancies under Universal Credit
The tenant will be required to provide appropriate evidence, to support the Universal Credit claim, the tenant has made.
A tenant is required to provide evidence of the rent payable under the terms of the tenancy agreement. If the tenancy is oral, DWP may accept a letter from a landlord or a letting agent. DWP will require the following information:
Tenant and landlords name, address and contact details.
- Address of the let property.
- The date the tenancy commenced.
- The period of the tenancy.
- Amount of rent payable and the frequency.
- The amount deposit paid, if applicable.
Informing a landlord, the tenant is claiming Universal Credit
The legislation does not allow DWP, to notify a private landlord, that their tenant has claimed Universal Credit.
Ensuring that rent is paid
Universal Credit payments are paid monthly, in arrears in the same way a wage is. From the benefit, tenants will need to arrange to pay the rent to the landlord, themselves.
If a landlord has previously received a direct payment of Housing Benefit, from the local authority, the landlord will need to speak to their tenants to agree on arrangements for collecting rent from them. Setting up a direct debit or standing order may help the tenant manage their rent payments.
In some cases, an Alternative Payment Arrangement, such as Managed Payment to a landlord can be put in place to support the tenant. Find out about alternative payment arrangements.
Paying rent while waiting for their first payment of Universal Credit
Many new claimants of Universal Credit will be coming from work and will be able to support themselves in the first month using their final amount of earnings.
However, where needed, a claimant can ask for a Universal Credit new claim advance to help pay their rent if they can’t manage until their first monthly payment of Universal Credit.
Alternative Payment Arrangements:
Alternative payment arrangements are available for tenants, who can not manage their monthly payment.
The landlord or claimant can apply, for an Alternative Payment Arrangement (APA) Managed Payment to Landlord (MPTL), at the start of a claim, or at any time, which will be considered the DWP.
An APA can also include, a more frequent, than a monthly payment, or a split payment of an award between partners.
Calculating monthly rent, if a tenant’s rent is paid weekly
Universal Credit is paid monthly. If rent is paid weekly, a monthly amount will be calculated by multiplying the weekly rent by 52, then dividing by 12.
Other rent payment frequencies
Other payment frequencies will be calculated as follows:
Four weekly payments are multiplied by 13 and divided by 12
Three monthly payments are multiplied by four and divided by 12
annual payments are divided by 12
53-week rent payment years
Universal Credit is calculated based on a 52–week year unless rent is charged over fewer than 52 weeks.
Managed Payment to Landlord
If a tenant, experiences difficulty, in managing their single monthly payment, or gets into trouble paying their rent, the tenant, their work coach, Case Manager or their landlord can apply for a Managed Payment to Landlord (MPTL).
This means DWP will pay the tenant’s Universal Credit housing costs, directly as a Managed Payment to the landlord (MPTL). This will be considered, on a case by case basis.
An MPTL may apply from day one or at any point throughout the UC claim.
The amount of any managed payment, a landlord receives, may change from month to month. This depends on the tenant’s UC award, usually up to a maximum value of the eligible housing costs.
Application of a Managed Payment to Landlord request
UC staff will consider, the need for a Managed Payments to the landlord, using the APA tier 1 and tier 2 factor guidance.
APA factors might include the following:
- Addiction problems
- Tenants in rent arrears
- Mental health issues
- Learning difficulties
- Previously homeless
This list is not exhaustive. More detailed information about the tier factors can be found in the guidance of Alternative Payment Arrangements.
All APA’s are subject to regular reviews, to ensure that any Managed Payment to a Landlord, remains in the claimant’s best interest.
Applying to have a Managed Payment to Landlord Alternative Payment Arrangement
If you have a tenant receiving Universal Credit, you can ask for a Managed Payment To Landlord – MPTL using the UC47 request forms at any time.
If you’re a private landlord and you’re applying for an MPTL due to rent arrears, you will need to complete the non-secure UC47. If you are applying for an MPTL due to another tier 1 or tier 2 factor only, you will need to complete the secure version of the UC47 form. You will need to explain your reasons, for the application, in the additional information box.
The secure version of the UC47 can be found by selecting yes, to the question ‘Does your email address contain any of the following?’ You must then post the form to DWP once completed.
Once the application has been processed, the landlord will be advised of the decision. If the application is refused, DWP cannot tell the landlord the reason why. This is because of data-sharing regulations and tenant confidentiality.
More detailed information about requesting Alternative Payment Arrangements.
How DWP pay the Managed Payment to Landlord (MPTL) Alternative Payment Arrangement (APA)
Bank Automated Clearing System (BACS) payment, will be paid into the bank account nominated by the landlord, seven days after the end of the tenant’s Universal Credit assessment period, every month.
The tenancy reference provided when requesting the MPTL, or the tenant’s postcode and full name will be used as the BACS identifier. This will appear on the payment transaction.
Enquiring about a Managed Payment to Landlord
The tenant can use their online account, to access and notify their landlord, of any information they wish to provide to their landlord.
For landlords, the claimant must provide explicit consent, to share their personal information, with their landlord—Universal Credit consent and disclosure information guide.
Other APA Types
More detailed information about other types of Alternative Payment Arrangements
Recovering rent arrears from a Universal Credit claim
Universal Credit can only make deductions, in respect of rent arrears, for a debt owed on the tenant’s current address. If the tenant’s changes address, any deductions being made will cease.
Arrears of rent and service charges for the property, the tenant is currently living in, are included in the list of deductions, that can be made from a Universal Credit payment.
If a tenant has accrued rent arrears, to the value of 2 months’ rent or more, a landlord can request a managed payment or rent arrears deduction.
The maximum rate, at which deductions for rent arrears can be made, is 20% of the Universal Credit standard amount. This amount may differ depending on whether other deductions or any sanctions or fraud penalties apply.
More information about help paying bills using your benefits.
The rate used will depend on the tenant’s circumstances. Only the tenant can request a change to the percentage rate by contacting Universal Credit.
How DWP will pay rent arrears deductions to the landlord
If approved, rent arrears deductions will be paid under the third party deduction (TPD) scheme.
More guidance for creditors and suppliers receiving a third party payment.
Note: Creditor Reference Number: You must provide your Department for Work and Pensions Creditor Reference Number. This can be found on your last payment schedule proceeded by five zeros. If you don’t provide this number, it can result in significant delays in the process of your request.
For information on how to receive electronic payment schedules or further information, you can email email@example.com.
Changes that might affect a Universal Credit payment
Where a Managed Payment to Landlord is in place, landlords are equally responsible for telling DWP of any changes they could reasonably know might affect the claimant’s Universal Credit payment.
If the MPTL is overpaid due to a change that has not been reported by either the claimant or the landlord, the landlord may be asked to repay the overpaid benefit.
How to submit a Complaint to DWP
You can provide feedback on the service you have received by using the online complaints service.
To read the original full Government 2020 guidance you can read here.
More DWP information for landlords
Author: Helen Cartwright
Date: 6th of March 2020