When you can change the way universal credit is paid

You can ask for housing costs to be paid direct to your landlord if you have rent arrears or find it hard to budget on universal credit.

Ways it can be paid

It may be possible to change the way your universal credit is paid if you struggle to manage your money. This is known as an alternative payment arrangement.

Directly to your landlord

If you find it hard to pay your rent on time, your housing element can be paid to your landlord. This is called a ‘managed payment’.

If you had housing benefit paid directly to your landlord, the same won’t automatically happen with your universal credit. You’ll need a good reason for this to continue.

More frequently

You may be able to get paid weekly or fortnightly.

Payments split with your partner

If you claim as a couple, your monthly payment normally goes into 1 account.

It can also be split between you.

When it’s split, the amount that goes to each person will depend on your circumstances.

If you get more frequent payments or split payments, your work coach or an adviser will look at whether your housing costs should be paid straight to your landlord.

When your universal credit can be paid differently

Some examples of when you may get paid in a different way include if you:

  • are homeless
  • are in rent arrears
  • have an addiction to drugs or alcohol
  • have severe debt problems
  • have experienced domestic violence or abuse

It’s also possible, but less likely, to get your universal credit paid differently if you:

  • have just left prison
  • are recently bereaved
  • have deductions from your universal credit for debts

How to apply

You can:

  • ask your work coach  
  • leave a message in your online journal
  • ring the universal credit helpline

Call 0800 328 5644 Monday to Friday from 8am to 6pm

Provide information to show you’re struggling, such as:

  • proof you’re in rent arrears or have other priority debts
  • personal issues that make it difficult to budget
  • you’re homeless and a landlord will offer you a tenancy if the housing element is paid to them

Information from your landlord, family or support workers should be considered.

When your landlord can ask for a managed payment

Your landlord can request that your housing element is paid straight to them if you have rent arrears of:

  • 2 months, or
  • 1 month and you’ve not paid rent on time in the past

Your landlord will need to provide a full breakdown of how your rent and arrears have been calculated. They’ll also need to know your date of birth and your partner’s if you claim as a couple.

When your rent arrears have been cleared, your landlord should tell universal credit. Your money should then be paid directly to you.

How long you’ll be paid differently

You should have a review every so often to look at whether you still need your universal credit paid differently.

Your work coach or an adviser should tell you how often your reviews will take place.

They may sign you up for budgeting support with the aim of getting you back to being paid in the normal way.

If you’re refused a different payment

It can be worth asking again if you’re turned down, making it clear exactly how getting your money in a different way will help you.

If you’re still told you can’t have your universal credit paid differently, you can ask for the decision to be reconsidered.

Last updated 14 January 2019 | © Shelter

If you need to talk to someone, we’ll do our best to help

Get help

Get the government to build more social housing

You have the power to make sure they provide affordable housing for all those who need it

Sign the petition Sign the petition

Email a link to this article

Thank you - your message has been sent.

Sorry! - your message has not been sent this time.

Was this advice helpful?

Thank you - your feedback has been submitted to the team.

Sorry! - your message has not been sent this time.