The Liberal Democrat’s Work and Pensions Spokesperson, Stephen Lloyd MP, will today initiate a debate in Parliament on the impact of Universal Credit on the private rented sector.
Lloyd has previously spoken in the Commons about his concerns that the 1.5 million private sector rented tenants on housing benefit across the UK could, unless the government makes it easy for landlords to receive direct payments from tenants on Universal Credit, be in danger of losing their homes if they fall behind with their payments.
He has quite rightly pointed out that most private landlords simply cannot afford not to receive rents for months on end.
The Residential Landlords Association (RLA), which has made a number of proposals that it believes would improve the delivery of Universal Credit for both tenants and landlords, has welcomed the debate.
RLA vice chair, Chris Town, said: “We welcome today’s debate and hope that MPs from all parties will agree that a few pragmatic changes to the way Universal Credit is delivered will lead to considerable improvements for both tenants and landlords.”
The RLA would like to see private landlords routinely informed when a tenant moves from the older benefit system to Universal Credit to help them to establish suitable rent payment schedules with tenants.
It also wants to see mechanisms put in place to give landlords confidence that rent arrears can be reclaimed after a Universal Credit tenant leaves a property.
Tenants should also be given the option to choose to have the housing element of Universal Credit paid directly to the landlord, if they wish, according to the RLA.
As members of Parliament prepare to debate the impact of Universal Credit on the private rented sector, research finds that 73% of landlords still lack confidence in renting to tenants on the Universal Credit due to uncertainty that they will be able to recover rent arrears.
Town added: “The RLA will continue to work with all sides to secure the benefit system we all want – one that is easy to understand, fair to all, supports the vulnerable and ensures the security of a home for all claimants.”