Tenant rent arrears double in housing benefits payment trial

Social landlords taking part in trials where tenants are paid their benefits direct are reporting arrears of around double the norm.

Their experiences will be of interest to private landlords, who have long protested that tenants receiving Local Housing Allowance do not always pass the rent money on but spend it on other things.

Data from the Department for Work and Pensions showed that 6,220 tenants were paid directly in the first four months of the trials. Arrears ran at a rate of 8%.

A total of 316 tenants have been switched back to payment of benefit to their landlord, with the projects still having eight months to run.

The trials are being run ahead of the introduction of Universal Credit next year, where tenants of both social and private landlords will be paid direct.