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Call for Universal Credit overhaul as many claimants fall into rent arrears

Half the people seeking help with their Universal Credit claim are in rent arrears, according to Citizens Advice.

More generous advance loans for new claimants and an additional two weeks of housing benefit while they wait for Universal Credit payments to start were among the measures introduced by the government last year to address concerns that Universal Credit was pushing tenants into arrears.

But with new the report published by Citizens Advice showing 49% of those it helps with Universal Credit are in arrears on their housing payments, the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) believes that further reform is needed.


Chris Town, vice chair of the RLA, said: “Today’s report demonstrates the need for more changes to be made to Universal Credit.

“One of the main drivers of rent arrears has been that tenants cannot routinely choose to have the housing element of Universal Credit paid directly to their landlord at the start of a claim. Many tenants prefer to have the assurance that their rent is paid and their right to do this should be introduced immediately.

“This needs to be coupled with lifting the freeze on housing benefits and the housing element of Universal Credit. Housing cost support is simply not keeping up with the realities of rents in the private sector, despite them falling in real terms over the past year.”

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Poll: Is more reform to Universal Credit needed?


  • Amanda Burrow

    Every one of my claims are having problem the system is failing badly

  • James B

    Shelter aren’t interested in this trivia .. just house them UC tenants no questions asked, and if you don’t they will send a team of unemployed supporters with nothing else to do who will picket outside your office

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    • 08 February 2019 09:11 AM

    My rents are double the LHA rate and will be increasing further.
    To be able to afford my rental properties the LHA rate would need to be more than doubled.
    How could Govt afford that?
    My rents would still be the same with rent controls as I would easily evade them in conspiracy with desperate tenants.
    So HB would need to MOVE to more affordable areas.
    Much of the SE is no longer affordable.
    There needs to be a massive deportation of HB tenants to the North where there are streets of empty houses and where rental costs are considerably cheaper.


    Paul. If you're using your real name, sharing your ideas on how you'll evade various laws and persuade tenants to comply could come back to bite you. A tenant with evidence of your law breaking could become a life long rent free boarder!

  • icon

    Easy answer, don't rent to claimants, leave them to the local council to home.

  • icon

    Don’t touch them but you can’t legislate for them going on it when in situ

    • 08 February 2019 09:53 AM

    Indeed you can't; but what you can do is to ensure you have a RGI policy in place.
    It is still valid even if they go onto HB.
    If they can't afford the AST rent then the RGI policy will pay for rent arrears and eviction.
    You will eventually receive the HB plus the difference from the contractual rent.

  • icon

    Its an abuse of tax payers money.

    The rent element should in all instances be paid to the landlord, no questions asked.

    Until then, few people will rent to people on UC and rightly so.

  • icon

    I am getting a direct payment for one now and it was quite smooth she still owes me nearly 1k cause spent over Xmas the whole thing is a disgrace

    • 08 February 2019 10:24 AM

    I guess you know the risks of 'clawback'!?
    But then having arrears paid is something.


    I agree with Paul... You do also know that your tenant can call at ANY time and say their account is up to date and they will be believed?

    The rules state they do not have to speak with the landlord, nor ask for evidence

    I had a tenant that did exactly that

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    • 08 February 2019 10:39 AM

    @ robertbrown
    Nah! what I suggest could never be proven.
    Cash is a wonderful thing!!
    No tenant would ever be able to prove anything as no receipts would be given for evading controlled rent.
    Believe me I have been working the system for over 40 years.
    Never been sussed in all that I do.
    Of course I will carry on in business the same way.
    No stupid regulations will stop me.
    I provide good quality rental accommodation which requires the tenant to come up with 2 months deposit and 1 month rent in advance.
    That will not change.
    It will just be done slightly differently.
    Anyway rent controls are a little way off yet!
    But all these silly regs won't affect me as I won't be paying any of the costs.
    The tenants will.
    As a good LL I just won't be complying with the deposit or any rent controls apart from what is allowed.
    Officially of course I will and nobody will be able to prove otherwise.
    Though all a bit academic for me as shortly I won't be a an AST LL!!
    Could well be a lodger LL though.
    S24 is to be thanked for this change.
    Otherwise I could have been a LL for the next 17 years as that is when the mortgages expired but S24 makes my business unviable.
    But should be able to make more tax evaded lodger income in my hoped for 4 bed resi house.
    Of course officially I will only receive £7500
    No way will anyone be able to catch me out.
    Anyway all pie in the sky currently as my credit status is in the toilet.
    So when I am an ex-LL I will be reduced to being of no fixed abode and living as a guest somewhere!!!
    But the point is bureaucracy is easily beaten.
    Been doing it over 40 years now
    Used to run about a million pounds through my bank accounts every year etc................all legal!!!
    Ahh! the days of credit card condtions and bank overdrafts prior to 2010!!!!
    Martin Lewis was an amateur compared to me!!!

  • icon

    Sounds like you have the perfect business model - ever thought about franchising or asking for investment via The Dragons Den ?

    • 08 February 2019 11:13 AM

    Nah!! The system only worked on bank overdraft and credit card conditions prior to 2010.
    I could have used it to launder millions but decided to keep quiet about it.
    Once a criminal knows you can easily launder cash then that becomes a problem.
    So I kept stcuum and just worked the system legally.
    Started the system in 1993 with just 2 credit cards and 1 bank account and then by reading those boring conditions sussed how I could legally work the system.
    If there is one thing I have learnt over the years is that all good things come to end.
    So I was able to legally work the credit card system and bank overdraft system from about 1993 to 2010 when everything changed.
    S24 has killed the leveraged sole trader LL.
    It seems systems seem to last about 15 years before the rules of the game are changed.
    So I reckon to get out after about 13 years and you should maximise the system rules and get out 2 years before they change.
    That is what I should have done with the credit card system and S24.
    But when things are going great guns it is hard to stop doing it.
    Certainly wisdom in hindsight!!
    S24 is certainly causing many issues for LL as is the benefit freeze etc.
    Basically the truisim that all good things come to an end seems to be correct.
    Give such things 10 years and then get out while the going is good

  • icon

    'So I reckon to get out after about 13 years'

    You just might get a 'life' sentence or maybe just a community order for 10 days unpaid work

  • icon
    • 08 February 2019 12:01 PM

    Not if you do things legally as I have always done.
    Anyone could do legally what I did.
    But most people just can't be bothered to do the paperwork.
    But for that short period times were good.
    It is perfectly possible to manipulate things legally.
    Conformity with terms and conditions is all that is required.
    Learn how they work and loopholes can be found.
    One example for you to consider.
    Remember the days of credit card cheques which didn't charge any interest or fees unless not paid off in full by the due by date.
    Now imagine a credit limit of £28000 with such credit card cheques.
    Now imagine that cheque debiting just after the credit card statement date.
    Now imagine that £28000 being fully repaid by the due by date 56 days later.
    So 6 cheques per year.
    Now imagine multiple credit card accounts with the same cheques with similar credit limits.
    Easy to see how you you can achieve a million pounds in turnover in conjunction with about 15 bank overdrafts and 60 credit cards
    All legal!!!
    Remember if you comply with terms and conditions you aren't doing anything wrong.
    You just have to know how to use terms and conditions to your advantage which is what I worked out how to do!
    Of course then the sods went and changed conditions............Grrrrr! as was their prerogative!!
    But hey good while it lasted.
    It basically ended in 2010 when 1 bank started to charge for balance transfers.
    At that point I knew it was game over!!


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