Exclusive: Universal Credit payment delays leave landlords in limbo

Exclusive: Universal Credit payment delays leave landlords in limbo

0:02 AM, 11th April 2024, About a month ago 53

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Landlords renting to Universal Credit tenants are being warned of potential payment inconsistencies in light of recent changes by the government.

The Chancellor Jeremy Hunt unveiled plans to unfreeze Local Housing Allowance (LHA) which will increase to the ‘30th percentile of local market rents’.

Despite promises of increased housing support for low-income renters starting from April 1st, 2024, many landlords are still receiving payments based on the old rates, despite the government’s pledge.

Why am I still being paid the old rate?

Mick Roberts, one of Nottingham’s largest landlords to house benefits tenants, says his tenants are still being paid on the old rate.

He told Property118: “I’ve been undercharging my benefit tenants for years and trying to look after them with cheap rents.

“There was a sigh of relief when the new LHA rates were introduced and promised on the 1st of April 2024.”

He added: “However, some landlords including myself are now being paid and thinking why am I still being paid the old rate?

“My tenants are ringing me who get paid on the 13th of April and who have their award notification from UC to say they are still being paid the old rate.”

Payments won’t kick in until after the tenant’s first BAP

Bill Irvine, a universal credit expert, says payments based on the new rates won’t kick in until after the tenant’s first Benefit Assessment Period (BAP).

In a blog post, Mr Irvine explains while the government announced the increase effective on April 1st, the actual payment adjustment follows a different timeline.

He says it’s not straightforward, especially for UC claimants, and has created a helpful timeline to demonstrate:

  • Tenant A claims UC and has a benefit assessment period (BAP) running from 15th March to 14th April, normally paid 7 days later, on 21st.


  • Normal rule is; when a change in circumstances occurs (e.g. child is born, starts new job, experiences a higher salary, moves address, adds a partner) the change takes effect from the first day – 15th March, so any increase/reduction in his/her award would apply from 15th March -14th April; paid 7 days later on 21st April.
  • However, for the purpose of the annual benefits uprating order, the approach is different. The increase, for example, to the tenant’s personal allowance, child additions etc., takes effect on, the first BAP, starting on or after 8th April. So, if the tenant’s BAP starts on the 8th his/her new award will cover 8th April – 7th May, with payment made on the 14th of May.


  • Whereas claimants with BAPS running from the 1st– 7th April will need to wait until the start of their next BAP before they realise the higher award. So, using the 1st as an example, that claimant’s higher award will be based on their BAP – 1st May – 30th May, paid on 7th June!

Delay in payments

Mr Irvine explains many universal credit tenants will receive a delay in payments.

He told us: “Most private landlords were delighted when the Chancellor confirmed the unfreezing of the LHA rates from April after a four-year wait.

“Because the LHA changes are subject to the Rent Officer’s order, the example relating to Tenant A above, applies to both his personal and “housing costs element.

“So, where private tenants have a BAP starting, between the 1st to 7th, they will have to wait until 7th-14th June before they receive their first payment at the higher rates.”

Another reason some landlords will refuse to take UC tenants

Mr Roberts says the confusion will cause many landlords to simply not rent out to benefit tenants.

He said: “This will be another reason some landlords will refuse to take UC tenants.

“It’s just one more factor that adds to our concerns and may ultimately lead us to reconsider our tenant selection process, perhaps opting for higher-earning non-benefit tenants in the future.”

When approached by Property118 for comment a spokesperson from the Department of Work and Pensions said: “Our increase to the Local Housing Allowance rate means that 1.6 million private renters on the lowest incomes will be around £800 a year better off.

“This is on top of the over £30 billion we are investing in housing support this year, while our Discretionary Housing Payments provide a safety net for anyone struggling to meet their rent or housing costs.”

“The increase to the Local Housing Allowance rates from April 2024 applies to the ‘relevant Monday’ in a new Assessment Period for UC claimants following the start of the new tax year.

“This aligns to Universal Credit (UC) benefits uprating which also comes into force from the start of the first Assessment Period beginning on or after the first Monday of the tax year.

“As UC is a monthly assessed benefit that is paid in arrears, a claimant will receive their newly uprated benefit award and their increase to LHA at their first full Assessment Period that follows the change.”

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Cider Drinker

9:05 AM, 11th April 2024, About a month ago

Housing Benefit has always been paid in arrears every 4 weeks (monthly if it’s Universal Credit).

I’d expect the revised rates to be paid from the end of April.

Reluctant Landlord

9:20 AM, 11th April 2024, About a month ago

Would have been a lot simpler if Hunt has said that increases START from the first day of the tax year Monday 8th April and NOT the 1st April then!

I raised rents from 1st April and with some tenants BAP being 4 March - 3 April it means they will have to fund the few days extra rather than it coming from UC....I've already had calls myself because they thought that the UC increase applied from 1st April....

Yes - ANOTHER reason why LL's choose to benefit claimants....

Jo Westlake

10:05 AM, 11th April 2024, About a month ago

I increased rents from whatever date in April the rent was due. My UC tenants have enjoyed ludicrously low rent for years due to the benefit freeze. Even at the new increased rate it is still significantly below the cheapest available property on Rightmove. Two of mine are probably impacted by the rent being due early in the month but as one of them receives generous child support from her ex and rent from her eldest son in addition to her wages and UC and the other one has 3 working adult children in the household I'm sure they can cope with finding an extra £120 or £195 this month.
They received the rent increase notice 6 weeks ago so the DWP has had ample time to process the increase.


10:24 AM, 11th April 2024, About a month ago

All my rents are due on the first of the month (with an adjustment for the first partial month). No if's no but's, it is the first of the month and all is due in advance. If the government chooses to pay benefit tenants in arrears and on a random day in the month then that eliminates benefit tenants from my property. I do not discriminate, the government does.

Mick Roberts

10:46 AM, 11th April 2024, About a month ago

Reply to the comment left by Cider Drinker at 11/04/2024 - 09:05
14 May is the first date we get it Cider. We gonna' have to wait to buy the bread before we can have beans on toast.

Mick Roberts

10:50 AM, 11th April 2024, About a month ago

Reply to the comment left by Reluctant Landlord at 11/04/2024 - 09:20
Yes same here, loads of calls & texts. I'm sending this standard text now:

Yes no problem. Thanks for letting me know.
Yeah yours not be till 17th May.
I've since found out UC DWP have a technical rule which saves em £ billions at tenants expense that have to pay it out their own pocket till it comes through.
No one gets the new amounts till after 14th May, due to the way they work out their Benefit Assessment Periods BAP. For old Housing Benefit, u get paid from 1 April. We'll be fine till 17th May. Good job u got good Landlord that will not make u suffer and pay the new amount until you receive it. Unlike most Landlords, who will want the new amount no matter what.

Mick Roberts

10:51 AM, 11th April 2024, About a month ago

Reply to the comment left by Jo Westlake at 11/04/2024 - 10:05
Yes and we should all think like that.
DWP won't even accept it till date due. Yes the law is we give em at least one months notice.

Mick Roberts

10:52 AM, 11th April 2024, About a month ago

Reply to the comment left by TheMaluka at 11/04/2024 - 10:24
Yes good words Maluka, wish I could have simple life like that & demand em all on 1st of month up front.


11:10 AM, 11th April 2024, About a month ago

Reply to the comment left by Mick Roberts at 11/04/2024 - 10:52It is only working tenants who can accept such a regime.

Robert Antonio

12:05 PM, 11th April 2024, About a month ago

The housing element of UC is based on the local housing allowance rate according to the number of bedrooms the tenant requires irrespective of what is prescribed in the contract/tenancy agreement. When the tenant signs the contract/ tenancy agreement they undertake to cover the full cost of the rent whether they receive housing element or not. It is for the landlord/agent to ensure they have confirmed the prospective tenant has the means to maintain the rent payments. Any increase in LHA would increase the amount paid to the tenant up to the amount prescribed in the tenancy/contract agreement. If the rent is below the LHA rate the landlord would not receive any extra money so there would be no change. If there is an existing shortfall between the LHA and the actual rent, then the tenant would still be responsible for this payment as was the case from the start of the tenancy.
I am unclear why there would be a problem with this arrangement.

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