Since 3rd October 2018, working alongside The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), Caridon Landlord Solutions has been piloting a new online system to allow rent payments, from tenants in receipt of Universal Credit, to be paid directly to Private Rented Sector (PRS) landlords.
The pilot of the new system, which will replace the two existing UC47 forms, has been successful, cutting the processing time down from in excess of three weeks to just two hours in some cases. DWP aims to launch the online system before the end of the year, although a date has not yet been confirmed.
Using the current system, PRS landlords who wish to apply for an Alternative Payment Arrangement (APA) to have the housing element of Universal Credit paid directly to them, have to download and fill out the UC47 form from GOV.UK. According to Caridon Landlord Solutions, which provides specialist advice on Universal Credit and Housing Benefit to private landlords, letting agencies and housing associations, the existing UC47 has caused a whole host of problems, subsequently discouraging landlords from letting to tenants in receipt of Universal Credit and similarly making it difficult for tenants to keep hold of homes they wish to stay in.
“This current system can be complicated as there are two types of UC47 forms.The first is the secure form, which can only be submitted by post or via email.However, to submit by email, landlords must have a secure email address recognised by DWP, including gsi or gov.uk owing to the fact the form requests personal details such as a tenants’ National Insurance number and the landlord’s bank details. This helps to ensure that all parties comply with data sharing regulations as set out under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The none secure form can still be submitted via email, however, the process can sometimes be slower as the claimant’s case manager has to contact the landlord to request bank details, because due to the non-secure data certain types of personal information cannot be submitted in this way .
“Caridon believes that the paper forms are taking weeks to be processed, sometimes getting lost along the way and all the while rent arrears are mounting up. We have been working closely with DWP, not only to get payments made directly to landlords where necessary, but also to speed up the process so that landlords have greater confidence in the system” says Managing Director of Caridon Landlord Solutions, Sherrelle Collman.
As well as supporting landlords in cases of non-payment of rent, the UC47 is also used for historical debt collection where a tenant has fallen into eight weeks or more of arrears and the landlord wishes to apply for third party deductions.In cases such as these, DWP takes a small percentage of the claimant’s personal allowance and gives it to the landlord towards the rent arrears.Sherrelle adds: “We have been working with DWP to develop an agile online system, making suggestions for adjustments to ensure it is as user friendly and efficient as possible.Landlords are now receiving confirmation of direct payments within 48 hours which is such an incredible improvement.”