What about my rent?

Universal Credit can include an amount to help you pay your rent – called a Housing Costs Element.

To be entitled to this element you must be responsible to make payments of rent for the home you live in.

Generally the whole of your Universal Credit award will be paid to you. And it will be your responsibility to budget and pay your rent from your Universal Credit and any other income you may have.

Will the money to cover my rent be sent straight to my landlord?
Normally you will receive the help towards your rent as part of your monthly Universal Credit payment - it will be your responsibility to ensure you pay your rent.
What if I go into arrears?
A system of Alternative Payment Arrangements means that once you are two months or more behind with your rent, your landlord can apply for something called an APA Managed Payment. This means that some of your UC payment is paid directly to them. But it may not cover your full rent - you may still have a payment to make yourself.

If you have been getting Housing Benefit and are used to your rent being paid directly to your landlord, this will change under Universal Credit – even if your landlord is a Local Authority or Housing Association. 

Make sure you contact your landlord when you make a claim for UC.

Universal Credit is not replacing Council Tax Support.

So if you need help paying your Council Tax bill, contact your Local Authority and ask about Council Tax Support.

What is an APA Managed Payment?

An APA Managed Payment is where an amount, up to the level of Housing Costs Element included in your UC assessment, is paid directly to your landlord.

These are usually put in place when you owe more than two months worth of rent, or where you might struggle to pay your rent.

The amount paid to your landlord as an APA Managed Payment may not necessarily cover your full rent, so even where an APA Managed Payment is in place it is still your responsibility to make sure your full rent is being paid (together with any extra payments for arrears).

NOTE: You do not have a right to an APA Managed Payment.

It is up to the DWP to decide if you need this help, and it will usually only be for a fixed period of time.

Struggling with paying your rent?

If you are struggling to pay your rent, you can ask your Local Authority for a Discretionary Housing Payment. 

The Local Authority’s budget is limited so you will need to explain your particular difficulties and provide a financial statement showing that you cannot afford the rent that is due.

If you apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment you need to describe your personal circumstances in as much detail as possible, to explain why you need the extra help and for how long you are likely to require it. You are more likely to get a payment if you will not need it for very long.

If you apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment, you must continue to pay your full rent until you have been told the outcome of your claim – otherwise arrears will build up on your rent account.

There is no time limit for applying for a Discretionary Housing Payment, so you can ask your Local Authority to cover a period in the past when you were entitled to some Universal Credit  and were liable for rent – any payment awarded can help reduce any rent arrears on your rent account.

FAQS

My Housing Benefit is currently paid directly to my landlord and I am happy with this arrangement…

Can I ask the DWP to pay my rent out of my Universal Credit?

here is a system called ‘Managed Payments‘ (or ‘APAs‘) where an amount up to the level of Housing Costs Element included in your Universal Credit assessment, can be paid directly to your landlord in limited circumstances.

But remember, this won’t necessarily cover all your rent so make sure you continue to pay any difference.

‘Managed Payments’ can be requested by your landlord where your rent account goes into arrears and you owe at least two months rent.

Alternatively, you can ask the Job Centre to set you up on ‘Managed Payments’ if you believe you would struggle to pay the rent yourself because of your circumstances. You will need to arrange an appointment with your work coach to explain what problems you have that make it difficult for you to cope with paying the rent yourself.

My Housing Costs Element doesn’t cover my full rent…

What can I do?

There are several reasons why the Housing Costs Element included in your UC award may not be covering your full rent:

1. You are deemed to be under occupying your property and so if living in social housing have a Bedroom Tax reduction applied.

2. You have one or more non-dependants living with you – these are grown up children, friends or relatives who are living in your home and are not dependent on you. A ‘housing costs contribution’ can be taken off your Housing Costs Element.

3. You have service charges included in your rent that Universal Credit will not cover – such as personal heating, intensive housing management charges or ground floor window cleaning.

4. The DWP believe you have what they call an ‘untidy tenancy’ and so are only covering 50% of your rent – speak to us immediately if you believe this is happening.

If the Housing Costs Element does not cover your full rent it is always worth getting this checked out – contact us for advice.

The DWP are insisting that my tenancy be changed to take off my ex-partner…

What can I do?

The DWP cannot insist on this.

Please let us know and we can write you a letter explaining that you are responsible for paying the full rent which you can provide to the DWP.

The DWP say I must have a tenancy in my name before I can get any help with my rent…

Is this correct?

No, as long as you are liable to pay rent, there is nothing in the UC Regulations that says you must have a tenancy agreement. A letter from your landlord confirming that you are responsible should be enough.

Although I am paying rent, my Universal Credit does not include any Housing Costs Element…

Could this be correct?

If you are liable to pay rent to your landlord then your Universal Credit award would normally include a Housing Costs Element. 

There are a few reasons why it might not:

1. When you completed your claim you ticked ‘No’ to the question ‘Do you have housing costs?’. If you think this may be the reason, let the DWP know that you are paying rent and contact us.

2. You have not yet provided the DWP with the information / evidence they need to include the Housing Costs Element in your award. You can check on your journal to see if you have any outstanding ‘to-do’s’ – and contact us.

3. You are living in ‘specified’ or ‘temporary’ accommodation and can claim Housing Benefit to cover your rent. Make a claim for Housing Benefit straight away and request a backdate. Get help from a benefits adviser and contact us.

4. You are paying your rent to a relative and so are not entitled to receive help with your rent.