More tenants than ever in receipt of Universal Credit

by CARIDON LANDLORD SOLUTIONS

14:05 PM, 15th October 2020
About 6 days ago

More tenants than ever in receipt of Universal Credit

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More tenants than ever in receipt of Universal Credit

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, Universal Credit has become a lifeline for many households. In the first two weeks of lockdown alone there were over 500,000 claims per week, more than nine times the usual weekly level of applications.

As of July, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) had 5.6 million people claiming Universal Credit – up from 3 million in March. So how does this impact landlords?

What has often been overlooked is that many of these new claimants will be tenants who have never previously needed to rely on the welfare system, but have since been furloughed, had their hours of work reduced or even lost their job. This means that thousands of landlords who have no prior experience of the welfare system may now have tenants in receipt of Universal Credit.

Understandably, many landlords are anxious, not only due to the current situation but because of the criticism Universal Credit has received since its introduction. However, in our experience, one of the biggest barriers for both landlords and tenants is a lack of understanding of the new system.

In many cases, if tenants are provided with the right support to ensure they are receiving the correct amount of housing benefit, and landlords are educated on how the system works and in what circumstances they can apply for direct rental payments, then there is usually a solution that works for everyone.

Earlier this year, we joined other industry experts in responding to the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee’s inquiry into the economics of Universal Credit. Following this, a series of recommendations for an overhaul of Universal Credit has now been handed to the Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) and changes are slowly being implemented.

One of the most fundamental issues raised was Alternative Payment Arrangements, where rent is paid directly to a landlord before the tenant gets the remainder of their Universal Credit payment in their account.  We have been calling for greater flexibility of direct payments to landlords for a long time because the current system has clearly led to increased rent arrears and put tenants at greater risk of eviction.

This is something that both landlords and tenants have called for and the report recommends that claimants should be given the choice, at the beginning of their claim and not when significant arrears have accrued, of having an Alternative Payment Arrangement.

If you have a tenant who is suddenly having to rely on Universal Credit and is unable to keep up with rent payments, take the first step in reaching out to them, they may be embarrassed or frightened to tell you for fear of being evicted. Gain a greater understanding of their circumstances and how temporary or long-term this may be.  They may not know about Alternative Payment Arrangements. We can help landlords and tenants set this up which not only gives tenants greater support in managing their finances but gives landlords the confidence to continue letting to their tenants, despite their temporary financial difficulties.

As you will be aware, the government has now made it a legal requirement for landlords to give tenants six-months’ notice when repossessing homes (until at least 31 March 2021) for most kinds of eviction notices. With this in mind, landlords should be looking to try and work with their tenants to sustain tenancies and maintain a positive relationship.

I believe that given the right advice and support, we can change the archaic preconceptions of tenants who receive housing benefit, preconceptions which are created by the minority but impact the majority. We can also give landlords the reassurance they need to adapt their investment model and support the housing market at a time when they are so desperately needed.

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

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Comments

Mick Roberts

15:31 PM, 16th October 2020
About 5 days ago

Brilliant Sherrelle if u getting something overhauled. It really needs doing.
I've had 3 tenants whose ID has been let used by UC for Fraudster to set up UC claim & get thousands elsewhere.
My genuine tenants ring up UC to say you've not paid me & UC say the Fraudster must ring us. Takes weeks & months to sort out, it's disgusting.
And this could all be avoided if UC checked with old Landlord if tenant had indeed left. And checked with new fictitious Landlord that the house does actually exist. But no, UC won't talk to very important Landlord.
The Direct rent arrears deductions payments team are shocking as u know. U do or don't get money in your bank, no idea who it is from, one person's stops & u han't got a clue who's stopped.
This is from Direct payments team.
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.

Old Mrs Landlord

16:28 PM, 16th October 2020
About 5 days ago

While it is good to learn that "changes are slowly being implemented" it would be much better if changes were swiftly being implemented. Unfortunately for many landlords their aversion to housing tenants who rely on benefits is not based on "archaic preconceptions" but bitter experience and financial loss.

Old Mrs Landlord

17:17 PM, 16th October 2020
About 5 days ago

Reply to the comment left by Mick Roberts at 16/10/2020 - 15:31
Did you reply in matching Double Dutch?

Mick Roberts

17:20 PM, 16th October 2020
About 5 days ago

Reply to the comment left by Old Mrs Landlord at 16/10/2020 - 17:17
Ha ha yes, I have still not got an answer this day to how any normal Landlord without University Professor degree is supposed to understand that.
All we want is what we've had with HB for 15+ years & that is to email us the amounts & dates that is going in the bank.
HB does it 2 days before.
UC u have not got a clue as the letters that we used to get a week later aren't coming at all now.
Everything about UC is a travesty. And so simple to solve. This is why the poor UC tenants can't get houses.

Alk

17:40 PM, 17th October 2020
About 4 days ago

Reply to the comment left by Mick Roberts at 16/10/2020 - 17:20
Looking at what the Direct Payments Team has sent you Mick, I do understand what they are asking you to setup from a technical point of view.
From reading it, Option 1 is not available to you as you are not a local authority.
For Option 2, you could use Protonmail for secure email, which would require a subscription. Information here: https://protonmail.com/support/knowledge-base/how-to-use-pgp/
Option 3 is potentially easier. You need to have your own web space (and domain name) and you could get this from a provider like Krystal. They can help you with getting setup (provide a separate username/password login for DWP) and tell you the relevant ports numbers to provide to the DWP for FTPS. You then login with your username/password and access the files with a program called FileZilla and download the files to your computer.
Either way, these options all cost a subscription to get running (but rather that then battle to do it yourself and then you have support you can contact for help). I suspect that this has all been brought about by GDPR.
Hope this helps.

Alk

18:06 PM, 17th October 2020
About 4 days ago

Reply to the comment left by Alk at 17/10/2020 - 17:40
My apologies, having just read the PSN connect code of connection (I cannot find in google the "GFTS Code of Connection" referred to by the DWP), it is evident that Krystal would not be compliant for Option 3.
However, you could reach out to Memset instead. They are a Government supplier and have FTPS services available in their cloud storage space, so contact them regarding your situation and see what they say. They will probably be more up to speed on everything and whether they can help you comply. It could be that Option 3 is simply unobtainable as no-one at this level can comply with the GFTS Code of Connection.
Therefore, if Option 2 is your only option the easiest way to implement it would be using protonmail as explained.

Mick Roberts

6:09 AM, 18th October 2020
About 3 days ago

Reply to the comment left by Alk at 17/10/2020 - 17:40U understand cause u in the top 1% of people that's been to University to do a NASA Spaceship course.
Option 3 is easier-We just need to have our own webspace? There u go, you've lost my attention ha ha.
But thanks for your words as I am gonna' use 'em. But u have said it all, what you have said there is coming from someone who looks like has a great computer whizzworld knowledge. I rent houses out, house people, I don't do FTPS, FileZilla. I'll get someone to look at this Direct Payments Team one day (Who are external-They not DWP) & they will say You cannot be sending that to normal Landlords.
And u too Alk, say it all, it's not do-able for us normal Landlords.
Sherrelle, are u able to talk to any imbeciles high up in the 3rd party payments team yet?


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