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  • LHA/Universal Credit

    DWP concede Tenant Consent NOT required!

    Jonathan

    The RLA release was simply quoting from the DWP's response to a further information request it had made seeking clarification on the extent of the new approach.

    The UC "2 months rule" is just one of a number of ways payment may be redirected to the landlord. In some cases, payment can be made to the landlord from day one, simply by the DWP "work-coach" or "account manager" throwing the switch. To a great extent this will be influenced by "claimant" concerns over lack of budgeting/financial management skills, concerns over past evictions for rent arrears, or statements to the effect, receiving payment themselves might result in the housing element being misused, putting their tenancy in jeopardy. DWP staff can take the initiative without any application from the landlord in these type of situations.

    The APA scheme, in many ways, uses very similar "safeguarding" criteria to the Regulation 96 "discretionary rule" (Housing Benefit Regulations 2006) which allowed for the provision you refer to. The provision you make reference to is explained in more detail in the LHA guidance manual, and, as you suggest, still applies today, permitting payment by the Council to the landlord from day one, where the landlord reduces their rental charge to an affordable level i.e. the LHA rate. But you may recall, when this particular "safeguard" was introduced in 2011, DWP explained, in an associated HB/CTB circular, it would have a limited shelf-life and would NOT apply to UC.

    Nevertheless, if you examine one of my earlier bulletins https://universalcreditadvice.com/ha/2015/07/universal-credit---new-e-mail-apa-application-process-introduced-from-today you'll find the UC Tier 1 & 2 criteria around half way down the page, highlighted in blue. The criteria gives landlords loads of scope to secure payment direct, assuming their willing to make the effort or employ someone, like Caridon Property Services, to do this for them. Just like HB/LHA, landlords that are hands-on and willing to make the effort can mitigate most of the risks arising from UC and as I've said all along, the process of securing redirection will become easier as time passes.

    If you need any further advice or would like to discuss further drop me a note or call me.

    Bill Irvine

    UC Advice & Advocacy ltd

    https://www.ucadvice.co.uk


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    Thanks Bill for your advice

    I have several paid direct now which are above the LHA rate but are topped up by DHP for either a 3/6/12 month period. This keeps me temporarily on board.  It comes through in one payment even though it is made up of two components. the   LHA and DHP. -  When that DHP element comes to an end though  it just drops back automatically to the LHA rate which may be £150 short of the contractual rent and  with just the LHA rate is  not then sustainable . I have not begun to really get to grips with  my knowledge of UC as yet as we haven't transgressed over but I need to get on board with it now this year

    The one tenant which did transgress over was done wth zero reference or notification  to me  by either the HB , LWP , UC teams or the tenants work coach. None of these 4 entities  would speak to me  let alone  give me the heads up so i was left completely in the dark  .

    My enthusiasm to continue with LHA/ UC like others is severely dented  I am absolutely pivotal to my tenant staying but it seems  no one is  tasked to  consult me .  It shouldnt need a 3rd party like yourself or Caridon to be employed to sort it even though your service is naturally welcomed.

    Having had my moan though I am a pragmatist and I`m a tired man after 18 years of battling -  so I will maybe look to Caridon to ease my pain

    I`m a typical man and dont go to a doctor normally but I may well make an exception this time due to volume

    Questions please

    1)  Will the DHP fund be available in the same manner for UC as it is for LHA. If so will it remain as one payment

    2) Will Caridon be able to proactively contact all the people they need to in advance of UC coming on stream in my area to attempt to secure  direct payment from day 1 . It seems this work coach is an important person in this decision . I eventually got their details but phone calls to them and e mails were just ignored . Do they have an obligation in their job description  to consult with the landlord or their representative or do i rely on pot luck. Maybe and hopefully Caridon will have a hotline into them ?

    Thanks as always

    Jonathan

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    Jonathan Clarke. http://www.buytoletmk.com


    Jonathan

    Firstly, when your tenant moved over to UC, the Council was legally obliged to notify you (as a person affected) LHA was being ended and the effective date of that event. The DWP, on the other hand, is not obliged to inform you, but may ask you to confirm the amount of housing costs if your tenant fails to provide confirmation. Not ideal but at least a form of alert.

    The DHP Fund continues Under the administration of the Council to be available. Your local council also has the ability to provide additional funds using the transfer of money it received from the Social Fund, although it’s a bit of a lottery in England as not all councils used the money in the way it was perceived they would. In  civilised areas, like Scotland, the money was ring-fenced for that purpose.

    If you contact Sherrelle at Caridon Landlord Solutions she’ll be able to explain what they can do.

    Bill Irvine

    UC Advice & Advocacy Ltd

    https://www.ucadvice.co.uk


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    Thanks Bill

    Sounds like I may have a claim .

    I will get my paperwork and evidence together and pursue with Sherrelle

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    Jonathan Clarke. http://www.buytoletmk.com

    Thanks Bill.

    Jonathan please feel free to give me a call once you have gathered your paperwork and evidence.

    I look forward in hearing from you.

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    "If I cannot get direct payment from day one I will not entertain UC tenants . The RLA should be aware that the amendments to the housing benefits  regs came in force in April 2011 when the 8 weeks in arrears rule was more or less superseded by  a clause in those regs which allowed direct LHA payment from day 1 to secure the tenancy. I have that clause written into my AST`s and ever since then all my LHA payments come to me direct from day 1."


    We have stopped taking UC tenants - business decision based that has cost us a lot of money to learn.

    I have tried the above by working my AST's that rent is to come direct to me - yet council's often ignore this. I was wondering if you had any wisdom Jonathan or others, for how to get this enforced. Again, it has cost a significant amount of taxpayer money for councils to experiement with tenants ability to manage their finances.

    Ironically, just responding to court paper from such an issue from years ago where they cliam HB was paid - but they have yet to prove any consideration was taken into acocunt that the tenant was a financial disaster. I knew this and thus had in the AST rent to come to me direct. They stated they not bound by what is the agreement between me and tenant. Expensive all of this!


    Thanks

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    Well done to you Bill, along with the RLA and Caridon, for fighting for this important concession. 

    The government bring in ridiculous policies with little thought to the reality, then we all rely on people like you stepping up to fight the most unworkable parts of their stupid ideas!

    Thank goodness for people like you.

    Angela

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    Author of The Complete Guide to Property Strategies and The Complete Guide to Property Investing Success
    Learn more at http://www.completepropertysuccess.co.uk

    I also post property updates on my Facebook Page

    "It is the small decisions you and I make every day that shape our destiny" Anthony Robbins

    Dear Bill,

    Thank you for the mention in your article.

    We all have been working very hard for DWP to listen to private landlords and make much needed changes.

    It is great to know that they are listening to us and the landlords that we represent.

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    Hi Everyone

    Since the publication of the article, I've been asked by a number of you to provide details of any Universal Credit courses being run in your districts. See below the latest batch of RLA events, with dates and costs. https://www.rla.org.uk/landlord/courses/landlord_universal_credit_training_course.shtml

    As the programme explains, Universal Credit Full Service is very different proposition to Housing Benefit/LHA. It's also a more demanding than UC's limited service, which was only available to single persons, in the main. The Full Service version is online. Claims have to be made online, as do changes in circumstances, uploading of relevant docs, including ASTs. Benefit is paid monthly, rather than 4 weekly and the default is still; pay the tenant! However, landlords can access payments right from the start of the claim if they're au fait with DWP procedure and expectations. Benefit Assessment Periods dictate when payments are made and also when changes take effect from. Some of the outcomes (good & bad) will be surprising to you. Communication and sharing of information with DWP will be most challenging. Tenant mandates and statements in ASTs agreeing access to tenant's details will NOT be honoured in the same way as they have been with LAs etc.etc.

    Come along and find out more. 

    Bill Irvine

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