Universal credit “misunderstood”

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Universal credit remains largely misunderstood, according to a study conducted by online letting agent Makeurmove.co.uk.

The research reveals that one in three landlords are unaware of universal credit while 40% of landlords have heard of the new government scheme, but are unclear about the details. Just 27% of landlords say they fully understand universal credit.

According to Makeurmove.co.uk, this research goes some way to explaining why some landlords are turning away LHA tenants. 

Richard Francis, director of Makeurmove.co.uk, said: “Clearly, there is confusion amongst landlords and many are still in the dark about universal credit. Not surprisingly, landlords fears that under the new scheme, housing benefit will go directly to tenants and hence bring an increase in rent defaults. This fear is prompting many landlords to say they are not going to support housing benefit.

"Universal credit will mean money is paid monthly rather than weekly, with an emphasis on recipients learning to budget properly. The latest Department for Work and Pensions plan would keep the system under which rent goes directly to a landlord after two missed payments, while adding a review after a first month's default.

“Currently, private landlords accommodate just over 1 million people who have part, or all of their rent paid by the state. The LHA market is growing, with 310 people turning to the government for housing benefit, every day, to keep the roof over their heads. More private landlords are needed to accommodate the growth in LHA tenants and unless landlords can be reassured about universal credit, this is going to be a major problem for government.”