Does Universal Credit Tell Your Landlord You Are On Benefits?
Universal Credit covers the cost of housing for most working people claiming benefits in the UK. Through this article, we aim to learn if Universal Credit will contact your landlord to inform them of your benefits claim. We will also study different situations under which Universal Credit contacts its claimants, how the benefit is worked out and what is the eligibility criteria for it.
Does Universal Credit Tell Your Landlord You Are On Benefits?
No, Universal Credit does not tell your private sector landlord that you are on benefits. However, if you live in a social housing facility, as per the Social Security (Information Sharing in Relation to Welfare Services etc.) (Amendment) Regulations 2015, the Department for Work and Pensions and the officials at Universal Credit must inform social housing landlords when their tenants are on benefits.
Irrespective of this, Universal Credit can contact both the private sector and social housing landlords. The reason why Universal Credit may contact your landlord is that monthly payments covering housing costs are made directly to landlords for which their bank details are required. To be able to claim Universal Credit payments, tenants must fulfil the following conditions:
- pay the due rent for the property they occupy
- prove to be liable for the property
- live in the property as their main residence
In very rare cases and should claimants fulfil specific criteria will housing costs for rental payments be sent directly to them instead of their landlord.
Universal Credit can make housing payments directly to tenants instead of their landlord in case the tenant:
- has not paid previously owed rent and currently has rent arrears
- is repaying previous rent arrears
- is repaying an overpayment
- currently has Social Fund or Discretionary Support debt
- is residing in a hostel, refuge or residential care
- shares the Universal Credit payment with another member of the household
The amount of Universal Credit that tenants receive each month may change; therefore your landlord may receive a different amount to cover your housing payments and you will be required to pay the remaining amount if the payment falls short of the due amount of rent.
In order to claim Universal Credit, tenants must be able to provide proof of their rental payments and service charges. Likewise, landlords are required to make sure that they have provided their tenants with a tenancy agreement and a letter confirming their housing costs; with a complete break up of housing costs, rents and rates; since Universal Credit does not pay for rates.
Universal Credit housing payments may not cover the full amount of a tenant’s rental payments and they will be required to pay the remaining amount to landlords. Therefore, while Universal Credit may contact landlords for housing costs payments, the tenant remains the first point of contact for landlords to claim rent.
Will Universal Credit Pay For Two Homes?
Yes, Universal Credit will provide housing payments for two homes in case of the following conditions:
- The claimant has moved into another house due to fear of violence in their own home. Universal Credit can pay for both homes for up to 12 months as long as the claimant intends to move back to their original home.
- A new home is being adapted to the disability needs of a tenant. While it is being modified and the tenant continues living in the previous home, Universal Credit will pay for both homes for 1 month.
- A household has been split into two homes due to the large size of their family. This will be considered as a single home and Universal Credit will pay housing costs for both.
However, there may be certain unique situations in which Universal Credit may or not cover housing costs. For instance, if someone has moved out of their main residence while renovations are taking place, Universal Credit will not pay for both homes.
Similarly, if a tenant is currently in a hospital or a care home and cannot move into their house, Universal Credit will pay housing costs for up to one month.
What Do They Ask You In A Universal Credit Phone Appointment?
In addition to your personal identification details, you can be asked about any of the following areas of your life during a phone appointment with regards to the Universal Credit claim:
- your identification details from your passport or driving license
- your postcode
- your NI number
- your bank account, building society or credit union account number
- your monthly rental payments
- your landlord’s address
- details of your savings and capital investments
- details of your income and benefits
- details of any child care payments made by you
- child benefit reference numbers (if any)
Why Do I Need A Phone Appointment For Universal Credit?
A phone appointment with regards to your Universal Credit claim is a normal part of the process as the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) gather required information as evidence in support of your claim.
These interviews may be held in person; however, to maintain a faster pace as well as avoid in-person visits since the onset of the covid 19 pandemic, phone appointments have been encouraged by the DWP and appreciated by claimants as well.
Usually, a DWP adviser called a Work Coach will be the one asking the questions during a phone appointment for Universal Credit. The purpose of the interview is to confirm the information provided in your claim, assess your income and expense details, discuss the work-related options available for you so that a Claimant Commitment may be drawn up. Once this document is finalised, you will become eligible to receive Universal Credit payments.
What Is Universal Credit?
Universal Credit is a state benefit for UK citizens above the age of 18 and below state pension age. It aims to provide financial assistance to individuals who are either out of work or on a low income. It is a monthly payment that claimants receive to help them to cover living costs.
Universal Credit has replaced six benefits, referred to as the “legacy benefits” by serving a single payment for households and helping them meet housing and childcare costs. These include:
- Income Support
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
- Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
- Housing Benefit
- Child Tax Credit
- Working Tax Credit
Additionally, it provides support for health conditions, disabilities or the role of a carer that prevent claimants from working full time or working at all.
Who Is Eligible For Universal Credit?
To qualify for Universal Credit, claimants must be able to fulfil the below eligibility criteria:
- aged between 18 (in some cases it may be 16 or 17) and state pension age
- unemployed or on low income
- between the claimant and their partner, total savings are less than £6,000
- experiencing high costs for child care
- suffering from a disability or health condition
- caring for someone else
The amount of Universal Credit that an individual receives depends on their personal circumstances and income (if any). For instance, someone who is single and younger than 25 years of age will be eligible for Universal Credit amounting to around £257 per month. Meanwhile, this amount will rise to around £509 for someone who is living with a partner and either one of them or both of them are above the age of 25.
Which Change In Circumstances Affect Universal Credit?
Certain changes in your circumstances can bear an impact on the benefits you receive including Universal Credit. Therefore, it is advisable if you face any of the following situations, you must inform the relevant authorities:
- a new mobile number, postal or email address
- a change in your bank details
- change of residence due to moving in with a partner
- having a child
- changes to your health condition
- being unable to work due to an illness
- starting to care for a child or disabled person
- finding or finishing a job
- changes to your earnings, savings, investments
- changes to rental payments
- changes to your immigration status (in case you’re not a British citizen)
What Counts As Income For Universal Credit?
During your benefits calculation by the DWP, not only is your job-related income(s) taken into account, but the authorities will also consider unearned incomes. These are incomes that individuals receive without having to work.
Unearned incomes that affect your Universal Credit payments include the following:
- Jobseeker’s Allowance (new style)
- Employment and Support Allowance (new style)
- Pension Income
- Carer’s Allowance
- State benefits that aren’t replaced by Universal Credit
For every £1 earned through any of the above means, £1 will be reduced from your Universal Credit payments.
However, the following unearned incomes do not count towards Universal Credit calculations:
- Child Benefit
- Child Maintenance Payments
- Disability Living Allowance
- Personal Independence Payment
- Income From Boarders And Lodgers
We can now safely conclude that Universal Credit does not contact the landlord to inform them that their tenant is on benefits claim. However, they will get in touch with them to get their bank details for transferring the housing element of their tenant’s benefits claim. The amount of Universal Credit that tenants receive each month may change; therefore your landlord may receive a different amount to cover your housing payments and may have questions that Universal Credit can answer.
FAQs: Does Universal Credit Tell Your Landlord You Are On Benefits?
Will my private landlord know if I claim Universal Credit?
No, unless you tell your private landlord, they will not know that you claim Universal Credit. There may be times when the DWP contact them with regards to payment confirmations or to confirm bank details as the housing element of your claim will be paid directly to them.
Do I have to tell my landlord that I am on benefits?
You only have to tell your landlord that you are on benefits in case they ask you directly. Otherwise, there is no obligation to do so especially if you don’t receive support for rental payments or you receive them directly.
Does Universal Credit check your tenancy?
While UC officials may not conduct formal surveillance, they may ask you to provide proof of your tenancy and rental payments with a tenancy agreement or receipts.
Does Universal Credit affect Housing Benefit?
Yes. If you were receiving Housing Benefit previously and are now claiming Universal Credit, the housing element of Universal Credit will replace Housing Benefit. This means that your rental payments will now be taken care of through Universal Credit and Housing Benefit will no longer apply.
Can landlords refuse Universal Credit?
A private landlord can choose to refuse tenancy at will and one of the reasons can be on the basis of tenants claiming benefits.