Universal Credit can be triggered by a range of circumstances or a change in them. Through this blog post, we will discuss in detail how moving your house can trigger a claim for Universal Credit. Additionally, we will also explore the circumstances under which the DWP contacts claimants’ landlords and the impact of Universal Credit on your financial decisions related to housing. 

Will Moving House Trigger Universal Credit?

Yes, moving your house will most likely trigger a Universal Credit claim especially if you are already claiming Housing Benefit. The main reason for this trigger is the UK Governments’ plan to phase out the six legacy benefits and replace them with Universal Credit through a “managed migration” by 2024.

However,  your benefits claim will be affected by your personal circumstances which are categorised as follows:

  • If you are currently receiving Housing Benefit payments and you move to a new council district, you may be asked to transfer to Universal Credit.
  • If you are currently receiving Housing Benefit payments and move house within the same council area, you will be given a choice to continue staying on Housing Benefit or transferring to Universal Credit (if the latter is more beneficial for you).
  • If you are currently on Tax Credit, Income Support, Income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance and are seeking a tenancy for the first time, you may be asked to claim Universal Credit.

If you are moving in with a partner who is on a Universal Credit claim, both of you may have to apply for a joint claim. Similarly, if a couple split up and they were previously on a joint claim, they will need to apply separately when one of them moves out.

The basic rate for Universal Credit (without top-ups for housing and childcare) can be classified as follows:

  • If you are single and under 25, you can claim £257.33 a month
  • If you are single and 25 or over, you can claim £324.84 a month
  • If you are living with a partner and both of you are under 25, you can claim £403.93 a month
  • If you are living with a partner and one or both of you are over 25, you can claim  £509.91 a month

Therefore, you must inform the DWP in case of any of the following situations:

  • your rent increases or decreases
  • you move home (within or outside your previous council)
  • a household member moves out of your home
  • a household member someone moves into your home
  • there is a boarder/lodger in your house 
  • you or someone in your household goes to prison

In addition to moving your house, changes to any of the following circumstances can also trigger a claim for Universal Credit:

  • a change in your employment status
  • a change in your family circumstances
  • a partner leaving or joining the household
  • the claimant starts or stops being a carer for someone else
  • the claimant starts or stops a disability claim
  • changes to your tax credits

Will Universal Credit Contact My Landlord?

Yes, Universal Credit can contact your landlord. While Universal Credit will not contact your landlord to inform them that their tenant has made a claim, however, they will contact them to ask for the bank details so that housing cost payments can directly be made to them.

Monthly payments that cover housing payments are made directly to landlords by Universal Credit while the remaining amount is paid to claimants. 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.

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. 

Will Universal Credit Making Housing Payments Directly To Tenants?

Yes, 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

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.

Does Council Tax Reduction Affect Universal Credit?

If there are changes in the amount of Universal Credit that you are eligible for and these changes bring you into a different income band, there may be a change to the amount of council tax reduction that you qualify for. similarly, if you are no longer eligible for Universal Credit, you may lose your discount on council tax bills as well.

Local council authorities take into account the income bands of residents to apply a discounted rate of council tax on individuals who are either unemployed or on a low income. Therefore, individuals’ incomes (including benefits such as Universal Credit) are taken into account by local authorities when designing a council tax reduction plan for claimants. 

Generally speaking, if someone is on Universal Credit, they may be eligible for a maximum discount of 82.5 per cent on their council tax bills and will be required to pay 17.5 per cent of the total amount. This is still a major financial relief for those struggling to find or maintain a medium to a high-income job.

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)

Conclusion:

Through this article, we have come to learn that moving house will trigger a Universal Credit claim if the claimant was previously on Housing Benefit and the move has brought a change to their personal and financial circumstances. However, this is not the only reason why a Universal Credit claim may be triggered. There could be many other changes in circumstances such as a change in income or employment status, change in the number of people living in a household or even a change in one’s medical needs that can trigger a claim for Universal Credit.

FAQs: Will Moving House Trigger Universal Credit?

Will moving house affect my benefits?

With a change to your rental payments, moving house can affect your claim to housing Benefit or Universal Credit. Similarly, if you move to a larger living area and you have unoccupied rooms, your bedroom tax will increase which will reduce your Housing Benefit or Universal Credit payments.

Does Universal Credit watch your house?

Benefit investigators from the Department for Work and Pensions may keep a watch on your house if you are being investigated for claim fraud. Other than during an ongoing investigation, the DWP does not generally keep a watch on claimants’ homes.

What triggers Universal Credit investigation?

A Universal Credit investigation can be triggered by any false claim being suspicious or the claimant failing to provide proof in support of their claim. This may include choosing not to declare the actual household income, faking an illness or injury to claim benefits, false declaration of one’s living conditions.

Does Universal Credit pay full rent?

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.  

Can Universal Credit help with moving costs?

If you are on Universal Credit you may request a budgeting advance to pay for expenses such as moving costs, repairs or security arrangements for your home.

References:

What changes in circumstances might trigger a move to Universal Credit.

What changes in circumstance trigger a claim for Universal Credit?

Moving to Universal Credit from other benefits – Citizens Advice

Check if a change affects your Universal Credit – Citizens Advice

DWP issues guidance on what triggers natural migration to Universal Credit | Housing Rights

Universal Credit and rented housing: a guide for landlords – GOV.UK

What Universal Credit means for landlords

Understanding Universal Credit – How earnings affect Universal Credit

Universal Credit: Report a change of circumstances – GOV.UK

Council Tax Reduction for Universal Credit recipients

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John has 22 years of experience in financial services. This spans across financial research, financial services (As a qualified mortgage broker and underwriter), financial trading and sales at global investment banks. While working as a publishing research analyst, he covered European bank credit and advised institutional clients on investment strategies at both JP Morgan and Societe Generale. John has passed all three levels of the CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) programme.

John has 22 years of experience in financial services. This spans across financial research, financial services (As a qualified mortgage broker and underwriter), financial trading and sales at global investment banks. While working as a publishing research analyst, he covered European bank credit and advised institutional clients on investment strategies at both JP Morgan and Societe Generale. John has passed all three levels of the CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) programme.