Landlords warned not to discriminate against benefits tenants8:58 AM, 14th July 2020
About 3 weeks ago 37
I wanted to share this story, because it demonstrates the importance of direct payments from tenants in receipt of Universal Credit to Private Rented Sector (PRS) landlords. Not only does it give landlords peace of mind, it also safeguards tenancies, ultimately preventing homelessness.
Last week, (Tuesday 18th June) a landlord contacted Caridon Landlord Solutions (CLS) because his tenant, who receives housing cost contributions as part of Universal Credit, was in more than £3000 rental arrears.
As a result of the arrears, the landlord had made several attempts to apply to The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to set up an Alternative Payment Arrangement (APA), meaning the housing element of the tenant’s Universal Credit would be paid directly to the landlord.
The APA kept being declined, because the tenant had put a case forward to say that there were disrepair issues at the property that the landlord had not addressed. The tenant also said that when the landlord upgraded the central heating system, he did not use a qualified gas safety engineer.
By the time the landlord approach us, it was clear that communication between the landlord and tenant had broken down. Our role was to not only mediate but find a solution which kept both the landlord and tenant happy.
We contacted DWP to get a clear understanding of what was actually happening regarding the APA and were advised that we needed to speak to the tenant’s solicitor in order to resolve the disrepair issues which were preventing the APA from being approved. We then contacted the solicitor directly who said that the case had been resolved and closed!
Clearly, there was a miscommunication between all the parties involved. At this point, we gathered all the necessary evidence to show that there were more than 8 weeks of rent arrears and that disrepair issues had been resolved. We then applied for the APA and third-party deductions to recoup the arrears on behalf of the landlord and submitted a stage one complaint.
Presenting the correct information meant that DWP were able to come to a decision much quicker and in less than a week the APA was approved.
This situation could have turned out very differently. The landlord may have decided to evict the tenant when communication between the two broke down. However, the tenant is now satisfied that the minor repairs at the property have been carried out, and the landlord is now happy to keep the tenant on knowing he is receiving rental payments directly.
I’m pleased to say that communication, cooperation and compliance have rectified this issue.
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