April 2019 rent changes
The DWP's stance is very much that claimants are responsible for reporting their rent changes by using their online account - although they cannot report it until it happens. So they have to wait until the rent has actually changed before reporting it!
On 3rd April 2019, DWP asked social housing claimants (via their account) to report any rent changes.
If you have access to the Landlord Portal
For the April 2019 rent changes the DWP said they would accept landlord notification of changes from those social landlords with access to the landlord portal.
Letter to landlords from DWP here. Landlord FAQs here.
However, there have been considerable delays - and testing only started in August - announced in the Landlord Engagement Newsletter. This means there will need to be adjustments to the housing cost element- and over/underpayments. Overpayments will be recoverable.
The DWP have given this advice to landlord to help avoid under/ overpayments:
# Don’t wait for the bulk exercise to report changes to tenants’ housing costs
# Encourage tenants to report any changes in their rent promptly via their online journal
# Claimants need to report favourable changes (eg, rent increases) before the end of the assessment period in which they occur, otherwise their universal credit will only be increased in the assessment period in which the change is reported
# If their tenant reports a change in housing costs, the landlord might be asked to verify the new housing costs. The landlord should verify the changes as soon as possible.
We don't have access to the Landlord Portal
For those landlords with no access to the landlord portal, the DWP has said that from 3rd April 2019, claimants will be issued with a “To-Do” via their account, called “Report any changes to your housing costs” to do.
This will ask if the rent or service charge has changed, and when; also whether there are any other changes.
They will be asked to declare and confirm their new housing costs if required.
Will we have to verify every rent increase?
Landlords will not be required to verify every rent change - DWP will take a "risk based" approach.