Residential Landlords Association (RLA)
Universal Credit Rent Arrears Rocket Says New Research
Almost two-thirds of private landlords with tenants receiving Universal Credit have experienced them going into rent arrears according to new research.
Based on responses from over 2,200 landlords, the Residential Landlord Association’s research lab, PEARL, has found that 61 per cent of landlords with tenants on Universal Credit have experienced them going into rent arrears. This is up from 27 per cent in 2016.
The research found that on average Universal Credit tenants in rent arrears owed almost £2,400, a 49 per cent increase compared to last year.
Over half (53 per cent) of landlords with tenants on Universal Credit applied for direct payment to be made to them instead of to the tenant, known as an Alternative Payment Arrangement (APA). Where successful it took, on average, over two months for this to be organised, on top of the two months arrears already accrued. This has caused arrears to build up substantially.
Those landlords that have to wait for two months arrears before they can apply for direct payment are reporting that on average the APA process takes 9.3 weeks. This when added to the initial two months arrears accrued means that landlords are on average owed four months’ rent before they are successfully awarded direct payment. The RLA is calling for the APA process to be improved as a matter of urgency, particularly before managed migration begins next year and more families and complex cases are moved onto Universal Credit.
One-fifth of landlords also reported that their mortgage lender prevented them from renting homes to tenants in receipt of benefits.
The RLA is calling for tenants to be able to choose, where it is best for them, to have the housing element of Universal Credit paid directly to the landlord.
It is also calling for private landlords to be given more information about a tenant’s claim, such as when they receive payments, where this is in the best interest of the tenant to sustain the tenancy so that suitable rent payment schedules can be arranged. At present, this is provided to social sector landlords, but not to those in the private sector.
Formal mechanisms should also be put in place to enable landlords to reclaim rent arrears where UC tenants leave a property owing rent.
RLA Policy Director, David Smith, commented:
“Our research shows clearly that further changes are urgently needed to Universal Credit.
“We welcome the constructive engagement we have had with the Government over these issues, but more work is needed to give landlords the confidence they need to rent to those on Universal Credit.
“The impact of the announcements from the Autumn budget last year remains to be seen. However, we feel a major start would be to give tenants the right to choose to have payments paid directly to their landlord. This would empower tenants to decide what is best for them rather than being told by the Government.”
Latest News from
Residential Landlords Association (RLA)
RLA and Gas Safe join forces to raise gas safety awareness21/05/2019 15:05:00
The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) and Gas Safe Register have joined forces to promote gas safety awareness to landlords.
Repossession: Courts failing landlords and tenants10/05/2019 16:25:00
Landlords are now waiting longer to repossess properties for legitimate reasons, according to official data published yesterday.
Tenant Fees Ban: One month to go02/05/2019 12:43:00
On 1st June 2019, the Tenant Fees Act will come into force in England.
NatWest changes due to RLA benefits campaign29/04/2019 14:43:00
High street lender NatWest has praised RLA lobbying in evidence to a government select committee on ‘No DSS’ advertisements.
Housing Secretary publishes written statement on Section 21 reform25/04/2019 12:20:00
The Housing Secretary James Brokenshire has revealed more information about planned housing reforms, following an announcement last week that the Government plans to consult on banning Section 21.
Short term lets: RLA welcomes set up of new APPG24/04/2019 16:37:00
The RLA yesterday welcomed the establishment of a new All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) looking into short term lets.
Landlords urged to shape future of rental sector19/04/2019 10:33:00
Landlords are being given the opportunity to shape their rights to repossess properties in a major new survey launched yesterday.
Section 21 announcement: FAQ’s18/04/2019 16:10:00
On Monday, the Government announced that it is intending to launch a consultation on scrapping Section 21, so called ‘no fault’, repossessions.