Over A Third Of Universal Credit Tenants In Arrears
Over a third of landlords that ‘house’ Universal Credit Tenants, when replying to a survey, said that they are experiencing rent arrears, which has risen by 10% from the previous year.
The survey was carried out by a trade body and 3,000 private landlords respondents who have ‘Universal Credit tenants’, nearly four out of ten (38%) said that they had to cope with rent arrears, an increase of 11% since February 2016 (27%).
According to the trade body the average rent owed to landlords by tenants claiming benefits under the highly criticised Universal Credit scheme is £1,150.
The heavy media coverage of the ‘fast track’ rollout of Universal Credit starting next month is making landlords highly concerned about the impact of potential rental arrears from Universal Credit tenants, and the sector is calling for urgent changes to be made to the system.
The most disquieting point about the scheme is that claimants who are being swapped over to the new scheme have to wait a minimum of seven weeks before they receive their first Universal Credit payment. The body wants the government to change the system so it is quicker and easier to receive payments and should pay landlords direct if arrears are being racked up.
A spokesperson for the body, said: “Whilst we continue to welcome the principle of simplifying the benefit system, it cannot be right that as it is currently designed, Universal Credit is leading many more tenants into rent arrears. This is not financially responsible and does nothing to encourage landlords to house people needing to claim benefit.
“We have already met with the Minister and are heartened that the Department understands the need to address the problem of rent arrears. With just weeks to go before the roll out of Universal Credit gathers pace we need action sooner rather than later.”