Landlords have spoken of their dismay at problems caused by Universal Credit as its revealed 73% are still hesitant to rent to those enrolled on the flagship programme.
Research by the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) reveals a majority of its members are still concerned over whether those receiving the new monthly benefit payments can keep up with costs.
Under previous so-called legacy benefits, rent was paid directly to landlords by the government.
Landlords renting to those on Universal Credit have felt the need to speak out on behalf of hard-hit tenants” alt=”Landlords renting to those on Universal Credit have felt the need to speak out on behalf of hard-hit tenants” data-credit=”Peter Nicholls / Reuters” data-portal-copyright=”Peter Nicholls / Reuters” data-provider=”reuters” data-provider-asset-id=”RTX20IYM” data-has-syndication-rights=”true”>
It comes as property barons across the UK have said they are worried about tenants falling behind with rent and racking up debt.
One Suffolk landlord claims more than seven out of 10 of his Universal Credit tenants are struggling to pay rent in full and on time.
Brandon Taylor rents homes to around 130 Universal Credit claimants in around Lowestoft and says that, in one case, a tenant who was on Universal Credit accrued £2,848 in rent arrears.
Where tenants accrue two months or more of rent arrears, landlords can apply for payments to be made directly to them, known as Alternative Payment Arrangements.
But when he has applied for this, Taylor found requests to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) have been ignored.
Meanwhile in the West Midlands, Linda Hazelwood says one of her Universal Credit tenants is languishing in arrears to the tune of £1,000 and cannot afford to pay the rent on time each month.
Another tenant has accrued £900 of debt as a result of delays.
Hazelwood has spoken on the need to help those without access to computers to manage their claims.
‘Beg, steal or borrow’
In the North East, Sue Thompson and her husband Phil say 90% of their tenants are in receipt of benefits, many of whom are on Universal Credit.
Thompson says that, although the Government has slightly reduced the time between applying and receiving Universal Credit, paying tenants in arrears means that many are forced to “beg, steal or borrow” to keep going.
She warns that in such cases a tenants’ first payment is then swallowed up by repaying those debts often with high levels of interest or late fees with the vicious cycle of rent arrears starting all over …