Landlords need to understand Universal Credit as tenants sign on

by CARIDON LANDLORD SOLUTIONS

14:01 PM, 2nd April 2020
About 4 months ago

Landlords need to understand Universal Credit as tenants sign on

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Landlords need to understand Universal Credit as tenants sign on

As The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) grapples with nearly one million new claimants applying for Universal Credit following the outbreak of COVID-19, Caridon Landlord Solutions, part of Caridon Group, says landlords should educate themselves on the Universal Credit system now so that they can support their tenants and both mitigate the risk of rental arrears.

DWP has reported that almost one million people in the UK had applied for Universal Credit in the last two weeks. With a welfare system that was already struggling to keep pace with the number of claimants and administration issues in the new system, Sherrelle Collman, Managing Director of Caridon Landlord Solutions, which specialises in providing advice to private landlords, letting agencies and housing associations on Universal Credit and Housing Benefit, says thousands of landlords who have no previous experience of the benefit system, will now have tenants on Universal Credit.

“As the true impact of Coronavirus takes hold, many people who have never previously needed to rely on the welfare system are having to apply for Universal Credit. Many will be anxious not only due to the current situation but because of the criticism Universal Credit has received since its introduction.  The good news is that more resources have been deployed to local authorities to help claimants, and measures such as immediate access to Advance Payments, increases to Universal Credit and raising the Local Housing Allowance rate to the 30th percentile of market rents from April, are being put in place.

We have had a surge of calls from landlords and letting agents asking advice about how the process works and if they should apply for an Alternative Payment Arrangement for their tenant, which is where the housing element of UC goes straight to the landlord to cover the cost of rent” says Sherrelle.

According to Caridon Landlord Solutions, there are four key steps landlords can take to help support their tenants who may now be applying for Universal Credit.

Step 1: Communicate with your tenant and support them as much as you possibly can.  If they are having to apply for Universal Credit, it is most likely because they have lost their job or had a significant drop in income. They will be concerned they could also lose their home.  Where possible, consider a rent reduction to meet the housing element of Universal Credit, some rent to help cover a mortgage is better than nothing, or if at all possible, offer a rent holiday.

Step 2: If your tenant has had to apply for Universal Credit because of COVID-19, they will require a letter from you verifying the rental amount, the address of the property they reside, and when the tenancy commenced. This will help them to qualify for the housing element of Universal Credit which will go towards covering their rent.

Step 3:  Work with your tenant to establish key dates, such as the tenant’s Benefit Assessment Period (the date their entitlement begins) so that you can see how it falls in line with the Tenancy Agreement.

Step 4: Many tenants prefer to have the housing element of Universal Credit paid directly to the landlord so they can manage the rest of their finances themselves. This is called an Alternative Payment Arrangement. Landlords should discuss this with their tenants and if in agreement, fill out a UC-47 form to apply for this.  If the tenant is already in arrears, the landlord can also apply for Third Party Deductions to reduce this, where an additional amount is taken monthly from the claimant’s personal allowance. Details can be found here .

Caridon Landlord Solutions is providing advice to landlords on next steps, how to fill out relevant forms and how best to work with their tenants to ensure they maintain the tenancy and support their tenants.

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

Mick Roberts

16:15 PM, 3rd April 2020
About 4 months ago

Sherrelle,
U got that slightly wrong.
Step A1 should be contact Sherrelle at Caridon cause u gonna' pull your hair out with UC. They just DO NOT talk to Landlords.
Oh, you're a Landlord? Oh dear. She whispers to her colleague 'I've got one of them parasites ringing me' She puts phone down.
Many Landlords for the sake of an admin fee to u, as long as all qualifies will get that back in the first rent Housing Element payment, that the tenant 'may' spend, never mind the admin & time & stress & hair loss & shouting in the meantime.

CARIDON LANDLORD SOLUTIONS

16:17 PM, 3rd April 2020
About 4 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Mick Roberts at 03/04/2020 - 16:15
Thanks Mick for your kind words.
Hope you are keeping safe.

Mick Roberts

16:20 PM, 3rd April 2020
About 4 months ago

And u and your firm. Hope these shannigans aren't hindering your business too much.

Clint

17:41 PM, 3rd April 2020
About 4 months ago

Is it now possible to get the rent paid directly to the landlord by filling a UC47 form before the tenant falls two months in arrears?

Mick Roberts

8:26 AM, 4th April 2020
About 4 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Clint at 03/04/2020 - 17:41
I don't believe so Clint. As daft as it is, the DWP & Govt would just like to keep wasting money instead of paying the Housing Element rent part of UC direct to Landlord so this Taxpayers money can be used for what it is intended for, shelter for the tenant.
Quite often, 3 months arrears can build up.

I was one of the fortunate few who are in the Online trial which Sherrelle so kindly first told me about. It is ABSOLUTELY AMAZING. It's an online version of UC47 if u didn't know. It takes about 96 seconds start to finish, no doing that terrible UC47 form that gets lost that u can't email in to an email address without going on English course to decipher the instructions to decide which email address u can use.

So Clint, keep pushing DWP for all Landlords to get on that. And have u any idea when that can happen Sherrelle?

Here was UC47 instructions till I got this changed:

Thank you for your enquiry.

This email address is only for Landlords to use when requesting a Managed Payment of housing costs or rent arrears or both from Universal Credit.

For all other housing enquires please use the Housing email address UC.SERVICECENTREHOUSING@DWP.GSI.GOV.UK

In order to process your enquiry we require a fully completed ÏSecure or Ð NonSecure UC47 request form.

If you have sent a ÏSecure UC47 form to this email box from a ÐNon Secure email address we will not process it as it does not comply with Data Protection legislation and your email and form will be deleted.A secure email address is one that includes GSI, GCSX, GSX, CJX, CJSM, GOV.UK, GOV.SCOTor GSE. This is to minimise the risk of sensitive information being intercepted and misused. If you do not have a secure email address and have completed a ÏSecureUC47 request form then please complete the Ð Non Secure UC47form and resend.
Alternatively you can send the completed ÏSecure UC47 form to: FREEPOST DWPUNIVERSAL CREDIT LIVE SERVICE.
Once the completed form is received a decision will be made whether or not to make a Managed Payment of housing costs, arrears deductions or both. We endeavour to action your request prior to the end of the assessment period.

Clint

19:34 PM, 12th June 2020
About 2 months ago

I am currently getting managed payments to Landlord and not getting the rent arrears payment for several tenants although, I had applied for the rent arrears payment at the same time.
What I wanted to know, from anyone who has experience in this is, if I applied for the rent arrears payment, would my managed payments automatically stop?
I have not bothered with the rent arrears payment for quite some time now for fear that, all payments may stop whilst UC investigate this and worse still might start paying the tenant the managed payments whilst the investigation is in progress.

I could now very easily do this with the new system without, having to struggle with the old form.

Mick Roberts

10:57 AM, 13th June 2020
About 2 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Clint at 12/06/2020 - 19:34
Clint,

I had exactly that this week. I have 2 tenants I'm getting the deductions for too & it stops when it feels like it.
The people in that team are even thicker than UC (As it's contracted out from DWP).
So I emailed the UC trial feedback man the below as I like u thought my normal 'rent' payments would stop as it's not very clear on their online form is it. The UC Trial people are very good, but it appears he don't know 100%.

Bill I know has been at loggerheads in the past with Neil Couling UC Director about the order Rent arrears deductions should be in, in DWP UC's priority list. Apparently Neil said they lower down the list whereas Bill showed him DWP regs which showed them near the top. Happy for Bill to correct me on this.

Dear Online Trial,

Is it XXX still doing this?

The Online payments thing, I was part of the trial.

Are u still fine tuning it?

As I've just done Rent arrears deductions. And nothing there to say:
If you are already getting Managed rent payments, Housing Element direct, do u want Rent arrears deductions this time?
I had to tick both, but don't want my current Rent payments messed up.

We still don't receive any acknowledgement from DWP UC to say Mick, we have received your online arrears/deductions & you WILL in 28 days be paid the money that the drug taking tenant has spent on new shoes.
So we stuck here thinking Have they got that form or not?

And then send this to your bosses please about the Third party deductions moron team:

This is what third party payments send us. U tell me if you can understand it cause a University Professor can’t.

HB has been doing this so simply for 20 years.

You've totally lost me on the words on your enclosed letter.
I just want direct email notification of direct arrears payments.
The enclosed letter needs Professors degree in English & Maths.

You don't expect me to read all them appendixes' do u?

Can someone ring me to explain what I want?

So option one only available to LA's

Option 2 got to have secure email
Option 3 You need me to pay Microsoft Bill Gates to come in at £3000 per hour to get u this info?

I cannot believe how backwards UC has gone.

You are having a complete laugh on Option 3.

Option 1 – EDI Transfer Your File

Transfer Your File is a secure, online file repository system which allows users to log in, access a folder where their file is kept, and download the file at any time. Files will be available for up to 30 days after the schedule has been created. Transfer your file will initially be available only to Local Authorities.

No testing is performed as you will already have an established connection for Housing Benefit data. LA’s going ‘electronic’ will need to ensure they have liaised with their current Transfer Your File users and arrange who will download the TPP schedule files and place them with the appropriate team within the LA every 4 weeks.

See Appendix 1, 1a & 1b for further details.

Option 2 – EDI PGP Secure Email This is available for Creditors/Suppliers (excluding Local authorities).

DWP will require your organisation’s secure email address for receipt of Secure Email (S/MIME) and a copy of your public key from your server which needs to be sent securely and will be used to encrypt the electronic transaction.

Estimated set up time scales are around one month.

See Appendix 2 & 2a for further details.

Option 3 – EDI Generic File Transfer Service This is available for Creditors/Suppliers (excluding Local authorities).

Your FTPS file transfer system needs to comply with the GFTS Code of Connection (GFTS CoCo). Please review the GFTS CoCo as it explains the things you will need to agree to in order to set up a secure file transfer route.

DWP will need: Username, Password, Server IP address, Server Public Certificate bound to the user, FTPS Control Port Number (for connection setup and firewall), recommended port is 21, FTPS dynamic data port range (for firewall), recommended port range are 8050-8249. Folder path where file will be sent to

Estimated set up time scales are around two - three months.

See Appendix 3 & 3a for further details.

Good Morning Mick,

The new live version accessed via the gov.uk website or this link https://directpayment.universal-credit.service.gov.uk does allow you to select rent arrears only and should not affect direct payments already set up. We will be continuously improving the system and we are aware communications are an area that need improving. However, I must say they are not priority at the moment as we try to manage the current situation.

With regard to your comments regarding the third party deductions team I will pass them to the relevant team.

Sent 8 Jun20
That's what I mean 'Should not'. We don't know that & scared it may. All it has to do is have warning on to say the same. If you are already getting Direct Housing Element Payments, ticking the Rent Arrears deductions will not affect that. Jude agreed with me on this about a year ago.

Clint

11:09 AM, 13th June 2020
About 2 months ago

I did one online application for the rent arrears prior to my post and then had second thoughts and hence the post.

Although, I have four more to do, I will just hold off after reading your post.

Thanks Mick


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