Buy-to-let landlords receiving rent from tenants in receipt of Universal Credit will continue to be paid housing benefit directly, rather than via their tenants, it has been confirmed.
Work and Pensions Secretary David Gauke announced the government U-turn yesterday, answering concerns over increasing personal debt.
“Those people who already have an alternative payment arrangement, the presumption will be that will continue and the money will therefore go to the landlord rather than the tenant,” Gauke said in a statement to the Commons.
The policy change, which comes with an opt-out for claimants who may wish to receive rent directly, comes in addition to an alteration announced in this week’s Budget statement which will see housing benefit paid for an additional two weeks after an individual starts their Universal Credit claim.
The latest data reveals that almost a third of all housing benefit claimants have their rent paid directly to landlords, which is the equivalent to some 1.3 million people.
Residential Landlords Association’s (RLA) vice chair, Chris Town, has welcomed the announcement.
He said: “This is a welcome change and will mean that tenants who choose, can be secure that their rent has been paid and landlords have the confidence to rent out housing to those claiming benefits.
“It is good to know that ministers have clearly listened to the concerns of landlords and tenants.”