Call for landlords to understand Universal Credit
With landlords around the UK facing the prospect of a huge jump in the number of tenants applying for Universal Credit, a call has been made for them to understand how this will impact them.
Following the Covid-19 pandemic, Caridon Landlord Solutions says that landlords should take steps to understand how the Universal Credit system works so they can support their tenants and then mitigate the risk of them falling into rent arrears.
The Department for Work and Pensions says that nearly one million people have now applied for Universal Credit in just two weeks and the welfare system is struggling to keep up.
This means there are administration issues which may affect the thousands of landlords who will have no previous experience of the UK's benefits system and have tenants now receiving Universal Credit.
The firm's managing director, Sherrelle Collman, said: "With the Coronavirus pandemic, many people who have never needed to rely on welfare previously are having now to apply for Universal Credit.
"Many will be anxious because of the current situation and also because of the criticism that Universal Credit received when it was introduced."
More resources in place to help claimants and local authorities
She added that there are more resources in place to help claimants and local authorities and there is immediate access to advance payments as well as increases to Universal Credit and the Local Housing Allowance.
She said: "We have had a lot of calls from letting agents and landlords asking for advice about how this process works and whether they should apply for the Alternative Payment Arrangement which sees the housing element of Universal Credit going straight to the landlord to cover the rent."
Ms Collman says that landlords now need to:
· Communicate with tenants and offer support where possible
· For those tenants applying for Universal Credit because of Coronavirus, they will need a letter from their landlord verifying their rent and property address
· Work with their tenant to establish key dates, including their benefit assessment period
· Discuss the Alternative Payment Arrangement so that the housing element of Universal Credit is paid directly to the landlord.
Unite downgrades its student homes' value
Meanwhile, it has been revealed that Unite, the student accommodation provider, has downgraded the value of its 40,000-strong portfolio because of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Unite is the first developer to do so and said that its two portfolios fell in value by 2.2% and by 1.5% in the first quarter of 2020.
The downgrade, along with its decision for its student tenants not to pay rent because they have returned home for the remainder of the academic year, has seen £80 million being wiped off its value.