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When universal credit can be paid direct to a landlord

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) can decide to pay either:

  • you – as part of your single monthly payment

  • your landlord

Your universal credit (UC) housing element is usually paid to you. Then it's your responsibility to pay your landlord the full rent.

If your housing element is less than your rent, you have to cover the rest.

Your UC housing element could be paid direct to your landlord if you:

  • have missed rent payments

  • find it hard 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 be paid direct if you have missed 2 months of rent.

They can ask for deductions from your benefits to pay off arrears.

How to ask for direct rent payments

You can:

  • call the UC 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 UC or any time after.

What to tell the DWP

You should tell the DWP if you have:

  • been in care

  • problems with addiction

  • experienced domestic abuse

  • been evicted for rent arrears

  • at least 2 months' rent arrears

  • serious debts without a repayment plan

  • been homeless or living in temporary housing

  • a mental health condition or learning disability

You may need to discuss personal information.

You could be asked for proof that you're struggling.

The DWP should consider information from your landlord, family or support workers.

These are not the only situations which the DWP should look at.

You might be offered budgeting support instead.

How long direct rent payments last

Your situation will be reviewed every so often. The DWP should tell you when.

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

If you disagree with a decision

Ask your work coach again. You can ask for a review if they refuse.

The DWP will not ask you for permission if your landlord wants direct rent payments or deductions for rent arrears.

You can give them evidence if you disagree that you owe 2 months' rent.

Last updated: 26 March 2023

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