DWP Complaints

by CARIDON LANDLORD SOLUTIONS

13:21 PM, 1st March 2018
About 10 months ago

DWP Complaints

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DWP Complaints

The following post is based on an article first published on Bill Irvine’s website. He covers a topic close to the heart of all landlords involved with benefit dependent tenants. The message he promotes is something I can relate to as I’m dealing with landlords every day of the week faced with similar rental loss. Pursuing complaints to the Independent Case Examiner (ICE) is something I would encourage you to pursue. If you need any assistance, I’ll happily provide some.

“If you’re a PRS landlord, invested in properties occupied by tenants, reliant on Universal Credit, I’m sure you’re aware of the difficulties currently being experienced by landlords, GB wide, when attempting to secure redirection of the “Housing Element” of Universal Credit, due to tenant rent arrears or their inability or unwillingness, to manage their monthly payments responsibly.

Many thousands of landlords have already submitted Alternative Payment Arrangement (APA) requests, using the DWP’s non-secure UC47 application https://directpayment.universal-credit.service.gov.uk/ and, after weeks of waiting and hearing nothing, discover their application has not been effective. In fact, despite their efforts, the housing costs, yet again, are paid to the tenant, even though he/she is already known to have misused the funds in earlier months, prompting the APA.

I receive calls and e-mails from landlords, GB wide, concerned and often exasperated, by the fact, their efforts to secure APAs, have failed. My website “Universal Credit Advice” attracts considerable interest & comment from PRS landlords. The one factor that stands out from the crowd is, repeated complaints of lost rental income, coupled with the difficulties this poses to cash-flow and inability to meet their obligations to lenders. I believe the sheer scale of misuse currently being experienced and total ambivalence of DWP hierarchy to the problem, represents, nothing short of a scandalous situation, something Esther McVey, the latest Secretary of State for Working Pensions would be aghast at and doing her utmost to remedy.

An e-mail received today from one of my exasperated clients prompted this post. In it, DWP acknowledges its second failure to respond to a 2nd stage complaint deadline – “I have been unable to meet my proposed deadline due to the high volumes of Universal Credit complaints I have to handle. In light of this, I hope to provide a response by 13 February 2018. Please accept my apologies for the further delay.”

This 2nd apology and revised commitment, has yet to be fulfilled 2 weeks later. The case was referred to DWP hierarchy on 15th December – fully two months ago and relates to the period July-October 2017. We were able to secure redirection of the housing element going forward but are seeking compensation, due to DWP’s maladministration, which caused the landlord 3 months lost rental income.

None of this is surprising to me or indeed DWP. In fact, we discussed the likelihood of this happening, in some of my earliest exchanges, with DWP management about the expansion of Full Service rollout. You may recall, I wrote via an open letter, to Neil Couling Director General, nearly 1 year ago which provoked a rather patronising and disingenuous reply, implying I was overstating the extent of the problem – scaremongering, in other words, whilst conveniently ignoring my past role as a Government Advisor to the now defunct Housing Benefit standing Committee.

As this problem is now escalating, I’m encouraging landlord clients to follow-up their APA requests, by writing to their Regional Practice Manager (details in link) http://universalcreditadvice.com/ha/2016…-explained  seeking an update, if after 10 working days, they haven’t had an acknowledgement. If that fails to produce the desired result, a 1st stage complaint is submitted and, if that doesn’t elicit a response, 15 days later, we recommend a stage 2.

Be aware, DWP hierarchy is unlikely to be in agreement with this proposal, but the current system is clearly “not fit for purpose”, causes serious cash-flow issues, rendering landlords, in some cases, unable to meet their obligations to lenders, and putting some irresponsible tenants, in jeopardy of losing their homes and being exposed to the vagaries of homelessness. The APA scheme, as we all know, was designed to protect the interests of tenants and landlords alike, and prevent all this from happening!

If you’re currently experiencing similar difficulties, follow my advice, prompt DWP to respond to your APA requests, and where that doesn’t happen, in timely manner, pursue, after stage 2, complaints to the Independent Case Examiner (ICE) in the hope of securing compensation. The good news is, ICE does appear to be truly “independent” of DWP, as 50% of all complaints referred, produce a wholly satisfactory result, albeit you might have to be patient & persistent to succeed as ICE has a 15 month backlog – classic case of justice delayed ……..justice denied!”

If any Property118 subscriber is interested in pursuing complaints of this nature, I’ll happily represent you.Please complete the contact form below 🙂

Contact Sherrelle for offline Universal Credit advice

Sherrelle is an independent consultant and is recommended by Property118 for landlords who require professional advice and assistance in regards to dealing with Universal credit related matters


Comments

Robert Mellors

11:50 AM, 2nd March 2018
About 10 months ago

Unfortunately the link to Bill Irvine's article about making the complaint to a Regional Practice Manager does not appear to work, and to get to see most of the information on his website you have to pay to become a member. Although I agree with what is written in this post about pursuing a complaint, the link to information on how to do this does not seem to work (it went to his website but no content displayed, just an error message). Sherelle, could you perhaps reproduce the information from "http://universalcreditadvice.com/ha/2016…-explained" on this forum (if it is not restricted to just the paid up members of Bill Irvine's website)?

CARIDON LANDLORD SOLUTIONS

12:50 PM, 5th March 2018
About 9 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Robert Mellors at 02/03/2018 - 11:50
Sorry notice that the link is not working:

http://universalcreditadvice.com/ha/2016/09/universal-credit---your-regional-complaint-resolution-teams-explained

Bill Irvine has kindly opened up the link temporarily to non-members who usually would have to pay a fee.

Robert Mellors

0:36 AM, 6th March 2018
About 9 months ago

Reply to the comment left by CARIDON LANDLORD SOLUTIONS at 05/03/2018 - 12:50Thank you Sherelle, and Bill, much appreciated.

CARIDON LANDLORD SOLUTIONS

12:20 PM, 6th March 2018
About 9 months ago

No worries.

anne ireland

22:33 PM, 11th March 2018
About 9 months ago

hi there, i am going through an absolute nightmare at the moment with my horrible tenant. I finally got the rent element from her UC allocated to myself after much delay, which was due to my bank details not being passed on to the appropriate department. I have given them in 4 times now. I was assured in early February that my tenants rental element was suspended, and that rent would now come to me. In early March i rang to ask when i would receive the rent. The person on the phone very sheepishly informed me that there had been an error, and the rent had gone to the tenant. This woman must be rubbing her work shy hands together, because yet another dollop of free money has landed in her lap!That was MY money that she has, to pay MY mortgage on the property she is living in rent free, council tax free,water rates free, fuel free! And its so, so, easy! So why don't we all do this? Because we don't want to, that's why! We have dignity, respect for others, and we only want what is ours. I have had no rent since November last year, and thanks to this fantastic web site I now know exactly where to complain. To top it all this cheeky, hard faced object has asked me for a reference in order for her to get a council house! I am sorely tempted to give her one just to get rid, but If I gave her a decent reference and she got her CH, I would get neither rent or arrears from UC, which is totally unfair, and I will mention it in my letter of complaint. The other reason is, I think about who this woman would be living next door to. It could be an elderly person,a vulnerable person. She never puts the bins out for emptying and throws rubbish out into the garden,,i,m told she lets teenagers use my house for parties when she goes away, I was also made aware of other anti social behaviour. So I cannot, in all honesty, give her a good reference. I cant sleep or eat, all this has made me ill. Some advice (and a few kind words) would be most welcome. sorry for ranting!

Robert Mellors

0:21 AM, 12th March 2018
About 9 months ago

Reply to the comment left by anne ireland at 11/03/2018 - 22:33Hi Anne
I'm sorry to hear of the problems you are experiencing, I've dealt with a lot of anti-social tenants before and unfortunately, like you say, the law is on their side, it does not give landlords the ability to deal with anti-social tenants other than issuing Notices, followed by applications to the courts to evict the tenants, but all of that takes months. If you have not started the eviction proceedings yet then I guess this is probably your first action that you need to take. If you are not experienced or confident about this then use a professional agency like Landlord Action to do this for you. In relation to the Universal Credit, it may be that Caridon can help you get this paid to you direct and even get the UC that was wrongly given to the tenant?
As for the reference, I am often asked for these by Councils or by other landlords, and I think it is best to be totally honest, (just answer the questions with facts, don't embellish with personal opinion), even if it could possibly delay the tenant being re-housed. Whether some other landlords would do otherwise, just to help get rid of a bad tenant, I don't know.

CARIDON LANDLORD SOLUTIONS

11:31 AM, 12th March 2018
About 9 months ago

Reply to the comment left by anne ireland at 11/03/2018 - 22:33
Dear Anne,
Sorry to hear about the difficulties that you are experiencing with your tenant and the constant mistakes that Universal Credit are making.
At Caridon Landlord Solutions we are able to assist you in making a formal complaint to DWP and challenging them on there decisions.
I also think that you should maybe think about serving your tenant notice this may push them to make them understand the seriousness of the situation.
If you would like to speak to with one of our advisors regarding both matters please feel free to give our office a call and we will be more than happy to assist you.


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