Following extensive campaigning by the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) changes to Universal Credit have been agreed that will make it easier for direct payments to be made to landlords.
As a result of the campaign, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has confirmed that tenants will not have to give their consent when a landlord applies for Alternative Payment Arrangements (APAs).
Alternative Payment Arrangements (APAs)
APAs allow the housing element of Universal Credit to be paid directly to the landlord (as used to happen under housing benefit). However, a landlord would need the ‘explicit consent’ of the tenant to do this.
This meant that tenants could refuse consent or delay, leading to substantial rent arrears being built up.
From 20th December 2017, this requirement has been scrapped by the DWP. Now, if it can be proved by a landlord that their tenant is in arrears of two months or more, the DWP will arrange payments direct to the landlord.
RLA Vice Chair, Chris Town, said: “The latest news regarding APAs is a major step in the right direction, and will improve the operation of Universal Credit for landlords and tenants.
“The RLA’s close working relationship with the DWP has led to this and a number of other constructive changes in the operation of Universal Credit”.
A DWP spokesperson told the RLA: “Universal Credit is the biggest welfare reform in a generation and lies at the heart of our commitment to help people improve their lives.
“As we roll-out the new system, we are improving the way it works and this includes increasing support to help people stay on top of their rent payments.”