This can be a real problem for people who need to move but can’t, during the Covid-19 restrictions.
There hasn’t been any special help introduced for people in this situation, so we have to look at how Universal Credit would normally work for people who move home.
Generally you can only receive financial support to pay the rent for the property you are living in - and because of the way Universal Credit works - it's where you are living at the end of an Assessment Period that counts - even if you have spent most the time living somewhere else!
As you are already getting Universal Credit, then how the delayed move affects your UC award depends on whether or not you are already getting help with paying rent.
Do you already get a ’Housing Costs Element’ in your UC? You will if you’re renting the home you are moving from.
Already getting help with your rent
If you are already getting help with your rent then when your UC award is next assessed the DWP will include a a Housing Cost Element for whichever home you’re living in on the date it is assessed ie at the end of your Assessment Period.
So if you have moved into your new home by the date your UC is next assessed, then the Housing Costs Element will be based on your new rent.
Jon’'s been living at 19 Low Road (rent £100 a week) but his tenancy is coming to and end and his landlord wants him to move. He's been offered the tenancy of 22 High Street (rent £120 a week). He's signed the tenancy - due to start on 23rd November. He is all packed up and ready to move when he starts having symptoms of the Coronavirus. So he is having to stay at 19 Low Road longer than planned.
He's been getting UC for a while now and his Assessment Periods run from 7th of one month to 6th of the next. So as long as he moves into 22 High Street by the next time his UC is due to be assessed - which is 6th May - his Housing Costs Element will be based on his new rent.
If this means that he has been liable to pay rent on the two properties for a short period of time then the DWP will not normally cover both rents. Some UC claimants can get help with their rent on two properties, but only in a few limited situations and unfortunately being delayed in moving home due to self-isolating isn’t one of these circumstances. He could try for a Discretionary Housing Payment from his Local Authority to help, but there is no guarantee that he will get one.
Not been getting help with your rent before you move into your new home?
Then because of the way UC works, you’ll get help with rent on your new home for the whole of the Assessment Period that you move in. So a short delay moving in may not matter. It's all down to the date of your Assessment Period and when you move.
Javid has been living with his Mum and Dad but due to overcrowding he has decided to move out. He has been offered a flat in Dorset Apartments, £120 a week rent. He's signed the tenancy which starts on 16th March. But on 14th March his Dad starts showing signs of Coronavirus so Javid has to self-isolate for 14 days. He eventually moves in on 28th March.
If his Assessment Periods run from 7th to 6th of each month, then when his UC is assessed on 6th April, because he is living in the property on that date, it will include a Housing Costs Element for the period 7th March - 6th April and his full rental liability will be covered.
However if his Assessment Periods run from 28th to 27th of each month, then when his UC is assessed on 27th March, because he is not yet living in the property on that date, it cannot include a Housing Costs Element. But when it is assessed on 27th April, because Javid is now living in the property, it will include a Housing Costs Element for the period 28th March - 27th April. So Javid will have missed out on help with his rent for the period 16thMarch (when he became liable for the rent) -27th March.