Universal Credit is here !

by Readers Question

9:18 AM, 28th May 2015
About 6 years ago

Universal Credit is here !

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Universal Credit is here !

I went to a Landlords Forum in Bridgend, Wales last week, what a nightmare! It is finally arriving, the dreaded Universal Credit!

This is where our tenants will receive the housing element of around £500 plus every month. Will they pay us?

Here is my idea to canvass. If you have Housing Benefit tenants they all fill in forms stating “if you do not tell us about any changes in circumstance we will prosecute you”. Now this means HB dept will prosecute for any change right. So…if the HB element of Universal Credit is not paid forward to the Landlord, then why can’t that be a change of circumstance? (The circumstance being that the UC paid forward by Gov’t is paid forward for that housing element).

I am lobbying my local MPs on this. I won’t accept any more rent voids, for if landlords like me go down, then any prospective tenant loses a chance with a good landlord. The very threat of prosecution under Universal Credit housing benefit element not being paid might just stop the tenant thinking they can get away with it.

Any thoughts fellow landlords??

Kevstop


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Comments

Nick Pope

14:24 PM, 30th May 2015
About 6 years ago

I have one housing benefit tenant as I consider it pays to keep in with the LA and there is also a social need for housing of this type. Last time I let the council sent round 5 potential occupiers. Mix of reasons for needing housing of this type. One was eastern European , 1/2 hour late and was very rude about the house, size of rooms etc. so she was out of the picture immediately. We called the LA later and mentioned it and as it was the 3rd time she had done it they refused to offer her anything else for 3 months.

All the others appeared very genuine and were open as to reasons for needing benefits. In the end we chose the one we liked the most. Not perhaps the best reason for letting but he (and the three kids who were abandoned with him by his partner) have been in for 3 years, have saved the deposit and keep the house like new. He is also handy and has done minor repairs (dripping taps etc.) without bothering me at all. From what he says he's very happy at the house, the school's are good and he will probably stay until the little ones have gone (10 years+ with luck).

Oh! and the rent's pretty good as well and there were no agent's fees to pay.

Neil Robb

23:07 PM, 30th May 2015
About 6 years ago

I have had tenants who received direct payment for years and most pay on time.

A tenant could be working and not pay rent it is just part of what we do. Not Nice.

If you claim housing benefit and don't use it to pay the landlord it should be classed as Fraud. What I love about the system is the housing tell you it is the tenants money not the landlords. But if the tenant has committed fraud and you have received direct payment guess what it is not the tenants any more but the money the landlord got.

Charles Fonteijn

11:06 AM, 31st May 2015
About 6 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Luke P" at "29/05/2015 - 12:33":

you have the legal right to ask the council for direct payment to you after 8 weeks arrears

Rod

11:49 AM, 31st May 2015
About 6 years ago

In theory yes, in practice ???? It's a long story only to say if there is a young child involved then the tenant wins all and they know it!

Charles Fonteijn

12:11 PM, 31st May 2015
About 6 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Jack Ass" at "31/05/2015 - 11:49":

Requesting direct payments from the Council

A landlord requests direct payment of housing benefit/local housing allowance (LHA) because the tenant is 8 weeks in arrears. The landlord confirms the request in writing and supplies whatever details of the arrears which the local authority requires. The landlord then sits back, expecting that from then on, the rent will start to be paid direct to him/her; and not to the tenant anymore. No money arrives and it transpires that, even after the local authority has received the landlord's request, the tenant has still been paid. Rent arrears mount up further. The landlord, therefore, wants to appeal or make a claim against the Council but it is not necessarily that simple.
Legal position

The law on this is settled. In essence the position is as follows:-

Once a landlord has notified 8 weeks arrears there still has to be a decision by the local authority to make payment direct to the landlord. Until this decision is made by the local authority payment is still due to the tenant. The authority obviously have to be satisfied that there are in fact 8 weeks arrears; that it is not in the overriding interest of the tenant not to pay the landlord (e.g. because of a repairs dispute); and that the landlord is a fit and proper person to receive direct payments.
In the meantime the Local Authority has the power to suspend payments (in reality it can be this failure to suspend payment which is at the heart of the problem).
So long as the original decision in place to pay the tenant is unchanged and payment is made to the tenant (despite the 8 weeks arrears of rent), payment of benefits cannot be made a second time around to the landlord once the payment has actually been made to the tenant. This is due to the operation of Regulation 98 (offsetting). As decision R(H) 208 states where payment had already been made under an existing decision to pay the tenant which is still in force what has been paid to the tenant would have to be treated as paid on account and offset against any money due to the landlord. The intention is that there cannot be twice over payment for the same period.
Only if a decision has actually bee made to pay the landlord but payment is then made to the tenant does payment have to be made twice over in the event of the tenant being paid in error (this is the effect of Decision [2008] UK UT31 (AAC)).

Rod

12:40 PM, 31st May 2015
About 6 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Jack Ass" at "31/05/2015 - 11:49":

Just to add. With our wonderful council, if the tenant is overpaid the council knock on the l/lords door for a refund - not to mention full c/tax on an empty property plus another 50pc on top if empty more than 6 months! The whole system is rediculous and nothing is done. Next life I'm coming back as a banker or a D??, which ever is the better off!

Luke P

12:51 PM, 31st May 2015
About 6 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Charles Fonteijn" at "31/05/2015 - 11:06":

You do know if you make it a condition of the tenancy you will also receive LHA direct...no 8 week arrears needed.

Gary Nock

13:19 PM, 31st May 2015
About 6 years ago

Listening to all this it is at times like these I am glad I do not take UC tenants!!

I got caught once in the "we have paid the tenant this money and we have found out she is working (which you as the landlord must have known!!) so we have overpaid her so you will not get any rent for two months"

Only once. Then no more DSS/UC/HB/ tenants. And then the LA invited me to a seminar so that I could "work with them in a mutually beneficial business relationship"

Suffice to say after my forthright assessment of their term "mutually beneficial" during the seminar I have not been asked anymore.

Rod

13:31 PM, 31st May 2015
About 6 years ago

Let's be honest and I've said it before and say it again "landlord" is a dirty word, in the same category as secondhand car salesmen. The l/lords are the baddies and tenants the goodies. If only!

Charles Fonteijn

13:57 PM, 31st May 2015
About 6 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Jack Ass" at "29/05/2015 - 20:31":

You should at least notify the council that the payments are not reaching you and request to suspend payments whilst they consider sending the payments to you direct.
Paperwork needed for payments direct to you: rent statement showing more than 8 weeks arrears, a letter formally requesting payments to be made to you and your bank details.

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