As managing agents, we need to stay up to date and advise our landlords on what is coming. Under the current situation, more and more tenants are having to start the process of claiming Universal Credit and many don’t understand the process or how, as a landlord, they will be affected.
To shine more light on the subject, we have provided some steps landlords should take in dealing with new Universal Credit claimants:
1. Communication is key
Make sure you are in contact with your tenants and support them wherever possible. This is a hard time for all, with many losing their jobs or having their income significantly reduced. This, leading to many worrying about losing their home. Consider offering reduced rent to meet the housing element of Universal Credit or a rent holiday if circumstance allows.
2. Dot the ‘i’s, cross the ‘t’s
Part of the Universal Credit application requires a letter verifying the rental amount, address and when the tenancy commenced. This will help the tenant qualify for the housing element mentioned earlier which goes toward covering rent.
3. Check the dates
Something to be aware of is that the payment of Universal Credit may not fall near the date rent is due. Making sure you are speaking to your tenants about key dates will allow you to assess how it falls in line with the tenancy agreement.
4. Direct payment
As part of the process, claimants are able to fill out an Alternative Payment Agreement (UC-47 form) which allows the housing element of their payment to go straight to their landlord.
Many tenants prefer this method as it allows them to manage the rest of their finances more effectively. If the tenant is already in arrears, Landlords can apply for Third-Party Deductions to help reduce this, allowing an additional amount to be taken monthly from the claimant’s personal allowance.
Make sure you are speaking to you tenants about this. If you need any more information, get in touch with our Poole Townsend team of experts.