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One of the most common issues for landlords in relation to the new Universal Credit system is requesting a Landlord Managed Payment. Under the LHA scheme this was known as simply “direct payments” to landlords.
Unlike Housing Benefit & LHA, where landlords could secure direct payment of the Housing Benefit (LHA) by statutory right (regulation 95) or through discretion (regulation 96) by restricting rents to affordable levels, landlords have NO such rights as far as Universal Credit “housing costs” are concerned.
Even in cases where we previously agreed to restrict rent to LHA levels in order to permit “vulnerable tenants” access to accommodation and enhance tenancy sustainment, the default position under UC is still to make payments to direct to tenants in the hope this will somehow help them budget.
Earlier research has also already proved that Housing Benefit (LHA) paid direct to the landlord substantially reduces the risk of rent arrears as it prevents tenant access to the funds and through this, avoids potential misuses of payment; something that was most prevalent after 2008.
DWP’s “Landlord Managed Payments” (LMPs) are supposedly designed to assist both tenant and landlord sustain tenancies but, in many cases, they’re not having the desired effect. PRS landlords, Housing Associations and Local Authorities are unable to communicate with DWP to discuss the process of the claim unless the claimant is present, which is not often feasible
Universal Credit has two types of service “Live Service” (limited to mainly young single unemployed claimants) and “Full Service” (Digital Service). The Government plans to move all claims over to the “Full Service” by 2022.
“Live service” operates nationwide, at present, deals with young men and women who become unemployed or unfit for work for the first time. Claimants usually have to attend the Jobcentre to see their work coach as the system is not currently fully digital and needs the claimant to agree and commit to a “claimant commitment”.
The “Full Service” deals with all types of claimants, including those that involve children, disabilities, single parents etc. The claimant registers for an online account and communicates with DWP through a journal.
Are the procedures the same for landlords for Full and Live Service?
Both services have overall different procedures with some similarities. For example, there are two different forms for requesting managed payments. Under the “Full Service” landlords should complete an Alternative Payment Arrangements PRS Landlord Request Form v2. In the first paragraph the form asks the reason for the landlords’ request:
(i) Managed Payment of Universal Credit Housing Element
(ii) More frequent payment i.e. fortnightly
(iii) A split payment payment between each claimant
The form then goes onto ask for the tenant’s details and tenancy details such as Name, Address, Date of Birth and reference number. DWP only recently agreed to accept the landlord’s reference number.
On page two there is a question regarding arrears and a section for Landlord details such as Name, Address, Contact numbers and Bank Details.
Lastly on page three there is a section for DWP creditor reference number this is the number created by DWP to pay landlords third party deductions to clear rent arrears. The form must be signed and dated by the landlord or representative.
Those of you who have already experienced applying for APAs will know it’s anything but straightforward. Delays are inevitable, raising landlord anxieties as to what is or not happening with the request. DWP will resist attempts at contacting them and even more demands for information often citing Data Protection and issues of confidentiality as justification for refusal.
DWP have a worrying habit of not being able to trace your APA or claim the wrong form was sent or wrong e-mail procedure used. In these cases, DWP will refuse to process the APA request and demand you send another.
To avoid these type of problems, the form must be sent via e-mail to the correct dedicated email address or by post to the DWP FREEPOST mailbox.
The form for the Live service Landlord request for a managed payment/ Rent arrears deduction UC47 again starts the form of asking for the request reason:
(i) Managed Payment of Universal Credit Housing Element
(ii) Managed Payment of Universal Credit Housing Element (Temporary Accommodation – LA only)
(iii) Rent Arrears
It then requests the tenant’s details and tenancy details such as rent payment frequency and rent payable unlike the other form it asks for both the tenants National Insurance Number and Date of Birth.
On page two the landlords details are requested and there is a question regarding rent arrears details and for the DWP creditor reference number, if known.
There is also the opportunity for the landlord to provide additional information, this can be used for explaining the importance of receiving the APA, describing the tenant’s vulnerabilities or level of rent arrears
This form must be sent via e-mail or FREPOST depending whether or not they have a secure e-mail address. You need to be careful to ensure you’re using the correct UC47 form and sending it by e-mail to the dedicated mailbox. Again, if the correct UC47 form for the service is not submitted via the correct channels, the requests will be disregarded.
For both services, if landlords are unable to email a UC47 form to DWP through secure email address, make sure to send to DWP Freepost, Bolton.
It is also a good idea to maintain a relationship with your tenants so that in the event something goes wrong with the payment they can work with you to have the issues rectified.
If all fails or you’re unwilling or unable to spend the time doing things yourself, engage professional help from organisations such as CARIDON LANDLORD SOLUTIONS (CLS)
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