When universal credit can be paid direct to a landlord

Your housing element could be paid direct to your landlord if you have rent arrears or find it hard to budget on universal credit.

How your housing element can be paid

Your universal credit housing element is paid to either:

  • you - as part of your single monthly payment

  • your landlord - as a direct rent payment

The DWP decide how to pay your housing element.

It's usually paid to you. Then it's your responsibility to make your full rent payment to your landlord including any shortfall not covered by the housing element.

You can ask for your housing element to be paid direct to your landlord if you're struggling to budget.

This is sometimes called a 'direct rent payment', 'alternative payment arrangement' or 'managed payment to landlord'.

You must still pay any rent shortfall not covered by your housing element.

Your landlord can ask to paid direct if you have at least 2 months' rent arrears. They can ask for deductions from your benefits to pay off arrears.

How to ask for direct rent payments

To ask that your landlord is paid direct you can either:

  • call the universal credit helpline on 0800 328 5644

  • ask your work coach through your online journal or at an appointment

You can do this when you apply for universal credit or at any point during your claim.

What information is important

Some situations make it more likely that your housing element will be paid direct to your landlord. These include:

  • leaving care

  • domestic abuse

  • addiction problems

  • at least 2 months' rent arrears

  • eviction for rent arrears in the last year

  • being homeless or in temporary housing

  • a mental health condition or learning disability

  • severe debts with no repayment plans in place

You may need to discuss personal information and you could be asked for proof that you're struggling. Information from your landlord, family or support workers should be considered.

These are not the only situations where direct payments to your landlord can be considered but you might be offered budgeting support instead.

How long direct rent payments last

Your situation will be reviewed every so often to look at whether you could start paying your rent to your landlord.

Your work coach or a universal credit helpline adviser should tell you when the situation will be looked at again.

There will usually be an automatic review if you move home or your income changes.

If you disagree with a decision

Ask your work coach again if they say you don't need your housing element paid to your landlord but you think it would help you.

If they refuse, you can ask for a review.

You won't be asked for permission if your landlord asks for direct rent payments or deductions for rent arrears. But you should be given the chance to provide evidence if you disagree that you're in arrears.

Last updated: 29 November 2020

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