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This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/universal-credit-landlord-engagement-newsletters/february-2019-universal-credit-landlord-engagement-newsletter
This Universal Credit newsletter is aimed to provide up to date information to social and private landlords about Universal Credit.
1. Setting up email alerts
Email alerts are a really good way to receive information that has been updated on GOV.UK for updates about Universal Credit.
To sign up for email alerts go to the bottom of any GOV.UK page, and click on publications on bottom right.
On the next page, down the left hand side you can select the appropriate filters to identify what you want to receive updates about - then select email and complete email details.
If you do this for the link above this will ensure you receive future versions of this newsletter when published.
2. General updates
2.1 News story
Read the news story published on 11 January 2019 where the Secretary of State set out a fresh approach for Universal Credit.
2.2 Universal Credit statistics
The statistics on the number of people on Universal Credit to 13 December 2018 were published on GOV.UK on 22 January 2019.
In the 5 weeks to 13th December 2018, the number of people on Universal Credit has increased by 10% to 1.6 million. Of these people, 37% (580 thousand) were in employment, compared to 41% in December 2017.
Of these people, 53% (830 thousand) were female, compared to 45% in December 2017.
These figures are in line with current expectations.
2.3 About the Universal Credit and rented housing guide for landlords
The Universal Credit (UC) and rented housing guide for landlords is a document that provides private and social sector landlords with information about Universal Credit to help them understand what they can do to help their tenants prepare for:
their move to the single UC monthly benefit payment
making direct payments of their housing costs (rent) direct to their landlord themselves
It also explains what support is available for tenants who may need help.This includes alternative payment arrangements if claimants are finding it hard to manage their Universal Credit payment and pay their landlord themselves.
It contains information for landlords including:
- understanding payments and helping tenants to prepare for Universal Credit
- paying rent
- evidence requirements and checking claims
- paying for 2 homes
- service charges
- support and Alternative Payment Arrangements (APA)
- recovering rent arrears from a UC claim
- discretionary Housing Payment
- specialist accommodation needs
More information about Universal Credit and landlords.
2.4 Managed Payment to landlord
We expect most Universal Credit claimants will receive the single monthly payment and take responsibility for paying their own household bills on time, including their rent.
However, we recognise that some claimants will need extra support in managing this payment. Therefore, in some cases a Managed Payment to landlord might be appropriate.
When can a Managed Payment to a landlord be requested?
A Managed Payment to a landlord can be made when either:
- a claimant is in arrears with their rent for an amount equal to, or more than, two months of their rent
- a claimant has continually underpaid their rent over a period of time, and they have accrued arrears of an amount equal to or more than one month’s rent
- any of the other Tier 1 and Tier 2 APA factors apply
Or for private sector tenants:
- a claimant was previously in receipt of Housing Benefit and it was paid to their private landlord, a Managed payment to landlord can be considered providing the claimant continues to meet the Tier 1 or Tier 2 APA factors
This is part of the conversation Universal Credit staff will have with the claimant at the start of the claim.
2.5 Universal Credit landlord communications
A suite of new products on the Understanding Universal Credit website, has been developed to help landlords understand what Universal Credit means for them.
This includes a new landlord section and a top tips guide and explainer videos.
All these products are designed to advise landlords so they can support their tenants in paying their rent and retaining their homes.
The Understanding Universal Credit Website contains useful information and advice for landlords including:
- the actions they need to take when their tenants make a Universal Credit claim
- how they can help tenants make and manage their claim
- what steps they can take that will help rent be paid on time and in full
The main Understanding UC website site also provides key information for individuals and partner organisations on all aspects of Universal Credit.
It’s an accurate and accessible source of information for tenants and landlords.
2.6 Universal Credit full service in Welsh
During the second part of 2018 work progressed to develop a fully bilingual Universal Credit system and ensure the same level of functionality was made available to claimants who wished to be dealt with in Welsh.
As a result, the bilingual system was made available to claimants in existing Universal Credit full service areas across Wales from Wednesday 28 November.
This ensured the Welsh language version was in place to support those Jobcentres with the largest numbers of Welsh speakers who rolled out with Universal Credit full service on 5 December (Anglesey and Ceredigion) and 12 December (Carmarthenshire and Gwynedd).
2.7 Untidy tenancies
An ‘untidy tenancy’ is one in which a joint tenant(s) has left the property and is not paying rent, if for example, a relationship has broken down, but the landlord is unable to remove them from the tenancy for legal reasons.
Universal Credit would normally divide the rental liability equally among joint tenants when calculating housing costs. Universal Credit provisions can sometimes allow a claimant to be treated as liable for rent which they do not have a formal liability to pay.
In such ‘untidy tenancy’ cases, this provision can be used to allow the housing costs to be calculated based on the full rent, despite a claimant having shared liability for the rent under a joint tenancy. These circumstances occur more often in the social rented sector.
2.8 Support for Housing Costs in Universal Credit for 18 to 21 year olds
The Government has amended the regulations so that all 18 to 21 year olds are entitled to claim financial support towards their rent in Universal Credit (UC) full service areas.
The regulations formed part of the Universal Credit Miscellaneous Regulations package which came into effect on the 31 December 2018.
Subject to normal provisions, those who previously did not receive support may be entitled to receive financial support towards their housing costs.
The policy does not apply retrospectively and claimants should ensure that their UC account accurately reflects their current housing status and notify UC of any changes.
2.9 Severe Disability Premium and Managed Migration Regulations
On 16 January 2019 new regulations were introduced which prevent claimants who are receiving the Severe Disability Premium (SDP), or have received it within the last month and remain entitled to it, from moving to Universal Credit even if they have a relevant change in their circumstances.
Instead, these claimants will continue to claim legacy benefits until the Department move them onto Universal Credit. Transitional protection will be available to safeguard their existing benefit entitlement.
These draft regulations will also enable claimants who were in receipt of the SDP and who have already moved on to Universal Credit before 16 January 2019, to be considered for a transitional payment.
Eligible claimants will receive an on-going monthly payment and an additional lump-sum payment, to cover the period since they moved onto Universal Credit once the regulations have been approved by Parliament.
2.10 Universal Credit and families with more than 2 children
Guidance that will help you in your conversations with claimants who may be effected by the Universal Credit 2 child policy.
2.11 Universal Credit and homeless people
Information about Universal Credit for homeless people, those at risk of homelessness and the organisations supporting them was published on Gov.uk on 27 November 2018.
2.12 Third party deductions for rent arrears helpline numbers
Social landlords are paid their Managed Payment to landlord and recovery of rent arrears using the third party payments scheme.
For private landlords, recovery of rent arrears is made using the third party payments scheme.
Further information relating to the Third Party Payment scheme and Creditor Reference number including:
- creditor handbook – guidance
- the form to amend creditor address
- the form to amend creditor bank details
- the form to amend customer reference number
2.13 Benefit and pension rates 2019 to 2020
A list of the benefit rates and pension rates for 2019 to 2020 was published on 23 November 2018.
3. Information for Social Rented Sector landlords
3.1 Two factor authentication for landlord portal users
We are now introducing two factor authentication for existing landlord portal users.
This will require users to have access to a mobile phone. Users will be required to register a mobile phone number that is linked to their e-mail address.
The same number can’t be used more than once anywhere in the portal regardless of which email it’s associated with.
An Account Manager will be in contact with you to confirm your implementation date in due course.
The decision to move to 2 factor authentication is that it enhances the security already present with the landlord portal.
If you have any queries about 2 factor authentication, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
3.2 Landlord portal statistics
As of 23rd January 2019, there were 651 landlords enrolled on the portal (including Landlords in Northern Ireland).
As of December 2018, the enrolled landlords represent over 95% of the total SRS housing stock in England, Wales and Scotland and we are currently planning how we can complete enrolment for small landlords.
The list of landlords with access to the portal is updated regularly in the House of Commons members’ library.
If you are a social landlord and feel you would benefit from use of the portal, email:
3.3 Universal Credit local authority bulletins 2018
Information for all local authority staff about Universal Credit -CC3/2018 was published on Gov.uk on 30 November 2018.
The aim of the UC Bulletin is to provide Local Authority colleagues with updates on developments with Universal Credit and Universal Support.
3.4 Verifying Social Rented Sector Housing in Universal Credit
Delays in verifying Social Rented Sector housing costs are one of the main barriers to Universal Credit (UC) claimants being paid their full UC entitlement (including any payment due for rent) at the earliest opportunity.
A key principle of UC is that claimants/tenants are responsible for providing and owning their own data, including housing costs, this is a major change for many claimants/tenants who have previously claimed Housing Benefit.
One of the main reasons for these delays in UC making payments for rent is claimants giving incorrect details when they make their claim, leading to a mismatch with details provided by their landlord.
This means further enquiries need to be made which in turn can lead to delays in payments being made.
When making their Universal Credit claim, claimants are required to provide and social landlords are asked to verify the:
- rent amount
- eligible and non-eligible service charges
- frequency of payment
- number of tenants on the tenancy agreement • number of rent free weeks.
More than 50% of UC claimants get one or more of these details wrong when completing their claim, leading to further enquiries and potential delays in payment.
As a landlord you can help claimants/tenants get the right money at the right time meaning rent can be paid quicker and reducing the number of claimants/tenants moving into rent arrears.
It’s important claimants are prepared and have the appropriate information on their tenancy agreement or other document provided.
3.5 53 Weeks Update
Universal Credit is paid on a monthly cycle. Where a tenant has a weekly rental liability, they will have to make either 4 or 5 rent payments in any one month.
This means that claimants are ‘overpaid’ by UC in months where they have to make 4 rental payments and ‘underpaid’ where they make 5, but over time this broadly balances itself out.
It is impossible to accurately align weekly and monthly payment cycles at all points in time.
No year contains 53 weeks. Landlords who charge rent weekly on a Monday every 5 or 6 years seek a 53rd rent payments in a year, with the 53rd payment in part covering the tenancy for the first few days of the following year because of the way the calendar falls.
Where a tenant makes a 53rd weekly rent payment on the last Monday of the 2019/20 year, only 2 days of that payment relates to a liability falling within that year (ie payment covering Monday and Tuesday of that week as Wednesday falls in the new year).
Thus, 5 days of that payment is an advance payment for the following month and that month has only 4 Mondays and hence four rent payments.
The combination of the advance rent payment and the ‘overpayment’ in April 2020 means that the shortfall is immediately recovered.
The Department has recognised that there is a separate issue with regards to the way the calculation in the Universal Credit regulations converts a weekly liability into a monthly allowance.
The conversion is achieved by multiplying the weekly rent by 52 and then dividing by 12. This effectively means one day’s rent a year (2 days in a leap years) are not covered by UC.
We are currently considering whether this formulation around weekly rents, and potentially other weekly amounts in the UC calculation, should be amended.
3.6 Future Universal Credit landlord newsletters
We hope you have found this newsletter useful. If there is anything specific you would like to see in future editions of this newsletter, send an email to: