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Landlords welcome changes to Universal Credit but ‘further reforms’ needed

Recent changes to Universal Credit have been broadly welcomed, which largely explains why more buy-to-let landlords are prepared to rent to tenants on Universal Credit, but more still needs to be done to ensure that landlords can recover arrears that can occur when tenants move across to the benefit, new research shows.

A fresh study by the Residential Landlords Association’s (RLA) research facility, PEARL, has found that 36% of private landlords have more confidence to rent to tenants on Universal Credit as a consequence of changes announced in the Budget.

But the survey also revealed that 73% of landlords still lack confidence that they would be able to recover potential arrears when tenants move across to Universal Credit.

The RLA is calling for action to ensure landlords can reclaim any rent arrears built by Universal Credit claimants who move out of their property, as currently there is no mechanism to do this.

The trade body says that private landlords should be treated the same as those in the social rented sector by ensuring they can access basic information such as whether and when a tenant is receiving Universal Credit, to help ensure that landlords are able to work with tenants to organise suitable rent payment schedules.

The RLA’s vice chair, Chris Town, 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.”

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