What is Universal Credit?
Universal Credit is a monthly payment for people who are either unemployed, or working but on a low income. It will eventually replace all of the following benefits and tax credits:
• Income Support
• Child Tax Credit
• Housing Benefit
• Working Tax Credit
• Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
• Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
Section 11 of the Welfare Reform Act 2012 provides the calculation of an award of universal credit is to include an amount in respect of any liability of a claimant to make payments in respect of the accommodation they occupy as their home.
Where a tenant accrues rent arrears of 2 months worth or rent or more the landlords can seek for amount to
be deducted from the tenant’s universal credits payments to recover the rent arrears. This is legislated for in Schedule 9 to the Social Security (Claims and Payments) Regulations 1987 as amended by the Welfare Reform Act 2012.
Arrears of rent and service charges for the property the tenant is currently living in are included in the list of deductions that can be made from a Universal Credit payment.
Currently, Social Landlords make great use of “Third Party” rent arrears deductions from other benefit entitlements, such as JSA, Income Support, ESA and Pension Credit. The current amount is £3.65 per week and is based on 5% of the tenant’s JSA Personal Allowance. For this reason the higher Universal Credit limit will create the prospect of having the rent arrears cleared much quicker; private landlords can apply for third party deductions also.
If your tenant has accrued rent arrears to the value of two month’s rent or more, you can request a third party deduction to recover the rent arrears using the Request for a Managed Payment or Rent Arrears Deduction from.
The maximum rate at which deductions for rent arrears can be made is 20% of the Universal Credit standard amount. Deductions can be made at the rate of 20% of their Standard Allowance, although, in most cases, the deduction is likely to be capped at 10% or 15% because the tenant has other secondary debts, like Gas/Electricity, Council Tax, or Court Fines.
An e-mail facility is available, allowing landlords to make Alternative Payment Arrangement (APAs) applications, including requests for payment redirection in respect of Universal Credit. APAs are also known as landlord managed payments.
The current methods available for landlords to make a request for an APA are:
- By phoning Universal Credit on 0345 600 0723 requesting a rent arrears form or
- By email – private landlords (who do not have a secure e-mail address) use the UC47 (non-secure) form which is then to be e-mailed to the following address: [email protected]
- In the event of a private landlord having a secure email address there is a separate procedure to follow. Applications should then be submitted to the UC email address [email protected] Importantly, only UC47 forms should be sent to this email address. Additional documentation/evidence must not be sent to the email address. Secure e-mail addresses are listed as any of the following Email addresses, GSI, GCSX, GSX, CJX, CJSM or GSE, GOV.UK or GOV.SCOT
- By post – if you are applying by post you must use the secure postal version of UC47.
Evidence must also be provided before a direct payment for the Landlord can be made, such as:
- Details of rent arrears – this will show the current balance on the rent account including the amount of rent outstanding and the amount of rent due and paid for each payment period.
- A full break down of exactly how the rent arrears have been calculated, e.g. the period over which the arrears have accrued.
- A full break down of exactly how the rent amount is calculated/made up if service charges are payable, water rates and any other separate charges which are included with the rent.
- Additionally, you must provide the Landlord’s contact details – the name and address of the Landlord, plus the Landlord’s bank/building society account number and sort code for the account into which the payment has been made.
Where the landlord applies for a managed payment for rent arrears, they will not be required to provide additional supporting information other than that provided on the UC 47 forms, as these forms catch all the relevant information required to make an APA decision.
To progress the request for managed payment, it must be linked to the tenant’s Universal Credit claim. In order to do this the application must provide the tenant’s national insurance number or, if not known, a tenant’s date of birth.
Once DWP have received the required information they will make a decision on whether or not a managed payment direct to the landlord is appropriate and inform both the landlord and the tenant. If the managed payment is refused the notification issued to the landlord will not advise the landlord if their tenant is currently getting UC, nor will it advise them of the reason why the application has been refused.
There is no right of appeal against the decision. However, a decision can be reviewed if further information is provided.
Deductions are prioritised and rent arrears along with mortgage arrears are in the first priority category. To qualify for deduction for arrears of rent the following conditions will have to be met:-
• The claimant must be receiving Universal Credit including an element of housing cost;
• The claimant must be in debt for rent payments (or service charges included in the claimant’s rent);
• The claimant must still occupy the accommodation to which the debt relates; and
• The claimant’s earnings must be below the relevant minimum earnings.
Important Information: Always check you are using the correct version of the Managed Payment to Landlord request form UC47 by visiting GOV.UK webpage Universal Credit: Landlord request for a managed payment or rent arrears deduction.