Landlords Demand Government For Easy Access To Claim Universal Credit Rent Arrears
The government has yet to introduce a system whereby landlords are able to reclaim any rent arrears owed by Universal Credit tenants who have left their property. The sector is demanding that the government ‘steps up’ and introduces the new system as soon as possible.
Recent research by an industry body claims that a large percentage of landlords need assistance from the government in retrieving rental arrears from tenants on Universal Credit and benefits.
At the same time the report shows that landlords are changing their opinion on taking on benefits’ tenants, as 36% are more likely to since the Universal Credit announcements made in the autumn budget.
The Chancellor pledged a £1.5 billion support package to allay the fears and concerns over the ‘fast track’ of the Universal Credit program throughout the United Kingdom. New Universal Credit claimants will no longer have to wait five days from their initial assessment, before being entitled to receive payments. For anyone making a Universal Claim their housing benefit will be continued to be paid for the following fortnight.
The new changes will also allow any households to have access to an advance system payment within five days of signing up to Universal Credit, and instead of having to pay back the ‘loan’ over six months it will be extended to a twelve month period.
The survey, in spite of the government’s new changes, found that there is still considerable unease amongst the private rented sector as 73% of landlords has little confidence in retrieving rental arrears when tenants become Universal Credit claimants. They need to be re-assured by a quick introduction of a system that allows a relatively stress free method of getting back their rental arrears.
An industry spokesperson said: “Ministers have clearly been listening to concerns and we welcome their reforms to Universal Credit which have given landlords more confidence in the system. That said, there are still problems around rent arrears and recent tax hikes mean that landlords are less able to cope with difficulties in collecting rents. Without further reforms we cannot say ‘job done’ on Universal Credit.”