Housing Systems: Combating poverty and sustaining tenancies.

Coronavirus: Universal Credit - Rent Increases
Universal Credit - Rent Increases

April 2020 rent changes

The DWP's stance is very much that claimants are responsible for reporting their rent changes by using their online account.

Social Housing Landlords were not be able to bulk upload rent increases via the landlord portal.

KEY FACTS for social housing tenants/landlords:

  • A claimant cannot report a change until it happens. So they had to wait until the rent has actually changed before reporting it!
  • Every claimant was sent a "To Do" on their UC account entitled "Report any changes to your Housing Costs" asking questions to establish any changes to their rent and service charges.
  • Depending on their answer they were then prompted to declare and confirm the new housing costs.
  • The 'To Do' was posted around 1st April 2020 for claimants with a monthly rent; and 6th April 2020 for everyone else.
  • DWP did not request landlord verification of the rent in every case. However the landlord was asked to verify where the rent change was greater than the DWP's "tolerance level"- which they have said they would not disclose.
  • And where a claimant reported another change at the same time this may have prompted a rent verification request.
  • The DWP stated that landlords did not need to re-apply for APAs and Third Party Deductions as long as the address was the same ie a change in housing costs only rather than a change in circumstances.
  • Those claimants who had received a ‘nil’ UC award in the previous 6 months, but whose claim was still on the system, also received a ‘To Do’.
  • Where the claimant reported the change in rent via normal change in circumstances route, then a rent verification request was be sent to the landlord.
  • The claimant was required to provide a full rent breakdown.

More information is available:

Letter from DWP to social landlords dated Feb 2020 - click here
Letter from DWP to social landlords dated March 2020 - click here

FAQs from DWP - click here

Frequently Asked Questions
The following FAQs are taken from a document that the DWP issued to social housing providers:

Will there be any flexibility in the existing rules around backdating if a claimant declares a change in housing costs late?
Changes can only be backdated to be the beginning of the current assessment period, and this will not change in relation to the 2020 rent change exercise. However a claimant may submit an appeal against this as per the normal business processes. We urge all landlords to work with their claimants to ensure that changes are declared at the earliest appropriate opportunity.

Will claimants still receive a to-do to declare housing costs?
Yes - We will begin issuing to-do’s to claimants as planned.
For claimants with monthly housing cost liability the To-do will be available from 1st April 2020
For claimants who have non-monthly housing cost liability the To-do will be available from 6th April 2020.
The timing of this will depend on their Assessment Period end date.
The To-do includes a built-in tolerance, meaning that only those where there is a definite need to double check a declared change will need subsequent verification.

How will landlords best support vulnerable claimants who require support to report changes if we are unable to do this face to face
In line with current government advice, we recommend supporting claimants via non-face to face channels such as over the phone. Communications issued to landlords 13th March 2020 provides details on the Claimant To-do, including what information is asked as part of the To-do.

How can landlords access the portal from home? 
This will depend on how individual landlords IT is setup, however we have temporarily removed the IP Address restrictions to support greater use of homeworking during the current period and allow landlords to maximise their ability to verify claimants housing costs.