Tenant News

Many tenants may be accused of missing rent payments due to Universal Credit system change

Andrew Truglia - January 10, 2020

Many landlords are currently unable to identify which of their Universal Credit tenants have paid them due to a change in the payment system which has removed all unique references and replaced them with a generic 28-digit number. 

Caridon Landlord Solutions says that around three weeks ago there was a change to the system that allowed the housing element of Universal Credit to be paid directly to landlords. Up until then, each payment included a unique reference for each tenant, but this has been replaced with a random 28-digit number, leaving landlords scratching their heads over which tenant has paid them.

Many landlords have multiple tenants that have opted to use the UC47 managed payment method after those tenants have demonstrated that they are unable to manage their finances or have fallen into arrears. The method allows the housing element of the recipient’s Universal Credit payment to go directly to their landlord, eliminating the risk of the money being spent elsewhere.

Sherrelle Collman, Managing Director of Caridon Landlord Solutions, which specialises in helping landlords with tenants in receipt of Universal Credit, says she has been inundated with phone calls from landlords asking how to interpret the new number reference. 

“We were told last week that there had been an upgrade to DWP’s system which has caused the change, but we have been unable to get any further information on how we can allocate payments or what is being done to rectify the problem.  

“We called Universal Credit Full-Service line but they are unable to help without a National Insurance number, date of birth and/or address.  Then we called the Third-Party deduction line, and they are unable to help unless the tenant is in arrears and now has third party deductions set up. Some landlords have numerous payments for the same amount but for different tenants, making it impossible to identify who the payment is for,” says Sherrelle.

She went on to say that if the issue is not quickly resolved, many tenants could be accused of falling into rent arrears, when this may not be the case. Landlords will be unable to accurately update their tenant’s rent account.

UPDATE

When asked to comment, A DWP Spokesperson has said:

Shortly after private rental payments to landlords were automated in December an issue with reference numbers was identified. This was quickly rectified, we apologise for any inconvenience.”

The spokesperson also advised us that:

  • Any landlord who has identified an issue with private rented sector managed payments should raise this with their local partnership manager or Jobcentre Plus contact so that it can be investigated.
  • This contact should be able to provide a list of claimants against each payments to the landlord.
  • The DWP has now apologised to Caridon for the error.