Benefit claimants urged to pay extra rent in advance by housing associations
- 28 Aug
There are growing fears that once tenants are transferred to universal credit they will default their payments.
Housing associations are telling tenants on benefits to make extra rent payments in advance so that they avoid ending up in financial difficulties once they are transferred to universal credit, reports the Guardian.
These instructions by housing providers are reflecting concerns that people will default on payments once they have to begin paying rent themselves, a month in advance, under universal credit.
The Town and Country housing association, which provides 9,000 affordable homes in 22 local authority areas in Kent, Sussex, Surrey and south London, has told its tenants who receive housing benefit to hand over £14.60 extra a month until they are a month in credit, so they can meet the first rent payment once they are on universal credit. If they do not, their tenancies could be in doubt. "This will ensure that when you transfer to universal credit you will not be in arrears which could put your tenancy at risk," the association has said in local newsletters.
A spokesman for Town and Country said it understood that it would "be difficult for anyone who is likely to be on full housing benefit, in which case we ask for the minimum of £14.60 per month. This will ensure that their rent account is in credit. Similarly, it will also help to ease the transition when universal credit is introduced and residents will be responsible for paying their own rent from the credit they receive."
The Department for Work and Pensions says it has put in place arrangements to ensure that people who struggle with the new system can have all the advice they need.
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