Administration of Universal Credit branded ‘shambolic’ as tenant’s rent sent to wrong landlord

Bruce Forbes

A housing association director has described the arrangements put in place by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) for the introduction of Universal Credit as “shambolic”.

Bruce Forbes was speaking after discovering that Angus Housing Association had mistakenly served a legal notice on a new tenant for rent arrears.

Mr Forbes said: “Since the roll out of Universal Credit started, there have been numerous well documented problems with its operation which many of our tenants have also had to endure. Not least of these has been the ludicrous notion that families with next to no resources can survive for weeks on end before getting a first payment. This just illustrates how out of touch the Westminster government are with the reality of life for people on low incomes who are living a day to day existence.

“In the midst of all this, however, it was to be hoped that basic administration of the system wouldn’t make the experience worse. Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem to be the case. Our staff have had numerous examples of tenants’ housing costs being sent to another landlord despite the DWP having been given email verification of the rent being charged by us as the correct landlord.

“In the most recent example I have seen, we were forced to take legal action against a new tenant who built up over £1,000 of rent arrears as we were being told by DWP that the housing costs were being paid by them. The tenant was not responding to our letters which left us in a difficult position. It was only after the tenant eventually engaged with our Welfare Reform Officer that we got to the bottom of it. The DWP have been sending the payments to Angus Council instead of Angus Housing Association for the last three months. This is quite simply shambolic, especially given that the tenant in question actually lives in one of our Dundee houses.

“I would, therefore, urge any tenants getting rent arrears letters from their landlords to make contact to ensure their Universal Credit is being properly administered. This may be the reason your landlord thinks you owe them rent money.

“We can all only hope that the DWP double their efforts to get basic issues right and prevent tenants from wrongly going through the experience of being chased for debt.”

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