Landlord body welcomes U-turn on Universal Credit direct payments

Government changes to Universal Credit which will make it easier for direct payments to be made to landlords have been welcomed by the Residential Landlords Association (RLA).

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has confirmed to the trade body that landlords will no longer need tenants’ consent when applying for Alternative Payment Arrangements, or APAs.

Until now a landlord would need the ‘explicit consent’ of the tenant to do this. In practice, this meant tenants could delay or refuse consent, leading to substantial rent arrears being built up.

The DWP has now scrapped the requirement and, if a landlord can prove the tenant is in arrears of two months or more, it will introduce payments direct to the landlord – as used to happen under housing benefit.

The RLA, which represents landlords in England and Wales, has campaigned tirelessly on this and a range of other issues surrounding the controversial scheme.

Chris Town, RLA vice chair, said:  “The latest news regarding APAs is a major step in the right direction, and will improve the operation of Universal Credit for landlords and tenants. That said, further reforms are still needed and we will continue to work with the department to make Universal Credit work better for landlords and tenants alike.”

The Scottish Government offered people the choice of changing the frequency of their payments from once to twice monthly and to have the housing cost element of their Universal Credit paid directly to their landlord in October last year.