Tenants Forced Into Arrears By Universal Credit
Growing numbers of tenants are falling behind with their rent because of Universal Credit, research reveals.
The findings from the Residential Landlords' Association (RLA) highlights that over the past year, 54% of landlords with a tenant on Universal Credit say their tenant has fallen into rent arrears.
Of these landlords, 82% say the arrears situation began only after the tenant made a new Universal Credit claim.
They also say that problems began for those tenants who moved from housing benefit to Universal Credit.
The survey also highlights that 68% of landlords say that there is a shortfall between the amount paid under Universal Credit and the cost of rent.
'Ensure Universal Credit works for landlords'
The RLA's policy director, David Smith, said: "Our findings show the challenge for the government to ensure Universal Credit works for landlords and tenants.
"The system offers extra support but only when tenants are in rent arrears and more could be done to prevent them falling behind in the first place.
"Only then will a landlord have the confidence that a tenant on Universal Credit is not posing a financial risk. Without changes, a benefit claimant could struggle to find a home to rent."
A spokeswoman for the Department for Work and Pensions said that of those who join Universal Credit with rent arrears, the numbers fall by a third in the first four months.
She added that landlords who are reporting that their tenants are experiencing Universal Credit arrears over the last 12 months is also falling.
Rent affordability is an issue for tenants
Meanwhile, the affordability of rents is a growing concern for tenants in Scotland.
The Scottish Housing Regulators National Panel has published a report that reveals that one in three tenants say they have experienced difficulties in paying rent.
Also, two in three say they are worried about the future affordability of rent.
The regulator's chief executive, Michael Cameron, said: "What is affordable rent is a complex matter with local markets, context and the interaction with tax credits and benefits, adding to the complexity.
"All landlords are starting from the same rent level position and some may be able to increase rents and keep them affordable."
He added that landlords in Scotland should ask themselves whether they are doing everything possible to reduce costs and being efficient before passing on these costs to tenants.