Housing Systems: Combating poverty and sustaining tenancies.

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

April 2021 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 are 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 have to wait until the rent has actually changed before reporting it!
  • Every claimant is 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 are then prompted to declare and confirm the new housing costs.
  • The 'To Do' is posted around 1st April 2021 for claimants with a monthly rent; and around a week later for everyone else.
  • DWP does not request landlord verification of the rent in every case. However the landlord is asked to verify where the rent change is greater than the DWP's "tolerance level"- which they have said they would not disclose.
  • And where a claimant reports another change at the same time this may prompt a rent verification request.
  • The DWP stated that landlords do not need to re-apply for APAs and Third Party Deductions as long as the address is 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 is still on the system, also receive a ‘To Do’.
  • Where the claimant reports the change in rent via normal change in circumstances route, then a rent verification request is sent to the landlord.
  • The claimant is required to provide a full rent breakdown.
  • Information for social landlords about the April 2021 rent increase has been provided via the Landlord Portal - this confirms that it will be the tenant's responsibility to notify that their rent has been changed. All social rented claimants will receive a 'Confirm your housing costs' to-do in April 2021. The Landlord Portal will include a copy of the 'to do' questions - so that landlords can help tenants who are struggling to report the change - click here for the Information Page.
  • If a claimant does not complete the ‘to do’ by two weeks after the end of their MAP, the landlord will be sent a ‘to do’ to provide the new rent details. 
  • If, following the rent change, the landlord receives an APA managed payment at the incorrect amount, the landlord will be able to report this via the portal.

  1. This DWP bulletin states that claimants should not report their change in housing costs until they have changed. It also includes Q & As.

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  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 provide 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.