The new six-in-one benefits scheme known as universal credit continues to be rolled out across the country. It replaces the method by which your tenants may have previously received housing benefit. In an article on the 6th of March, Landlord Today explained that new guidance has been issued by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP).
The guidance stresses that tenants will be expected to take responsibility for paying their rent to the landlord from the single universal credit payment they receive each month.
An exception is the Managed Payment to Landlord (MPTL) scheme under which the payment of rent is made by DWP directly to the landlord. MPTL, however, is reserved only for tenants who have been judged by the DWP to be unable to manage rent payments themselves.
For many landlords, this represents a significant departure from the previous arrangements under which they received housing benefit payments directly. It is in landlords’ interests, therefore, to offer assistance to tenants in receipt of universal credit to manage their payment of rent under the new scheme.
The official guidance details how tenants will need to prove to the DWP the amount of rent they must pay and the fact that they are living in the stated rented accommodation.
In a related development, the Sun newspaper on the 13th of March discussed the additional problems which some tenants may face if they are forced to self-isolate because of the coronavirus.
During the present crisis, tenants may be relieved of their obligation to attend jobcentre appointments – and preserve their universal credit entitlement – at the discretion of DWP staff.