Call of the Week NRLA Advice Line 05/07/2020

Call of the Week: Universal Credit and direct payments

This month we helped one of our members learn more about direct payments of Universal Credit.

The landlord has a tenant who receives Universal Credit, and the tenant has built up rent arrears exceeding nine weeks.

The landlord had reached out to the tenant several times to ask if they needed support at this time, but after not receiving any rent for nearly three months they were very concerned.

They gave our advice team a call with a question about how to start the process of requesting a direct payment of the housing element of Universal Credit.


Our advisor began by confirming that landlords can request for direct payment from Universal Credit for the tenant’s housing element of their claim- if they owe rent arrears and are having difficulty paying the rent.

Currently, this can be requested when:

  • a claimant is in arrears with their rent for an amount equal to, or more than, 2 months of their rent
  • a claimant has continually underpaid their rent over more than 2 months, and they have accrued arrears of an amount equal to or more than one month’s rent
  • any of the other Tier 1 and Tier 2 APA factors apply
  • a claimant was previously in receipt of Housing Benefit and it was paid to their landlord, a MPTL can be considered providing the claimant continues to meet the Tier 1 or Tier 2 APA factors

As the tenant was in nine weeks rent arrears with the landlord and in receipt of Universal Credit, they fit the above criteria for requesting a direct payment.

Our adviser suggested the landlord read our guidance to learn more about requesting a direct payment. They also informed the landlord that a new online system was rolled out recently for landlords apply for direct payments, replacing the UC47 paper-based system.

The member now understood more about direct payments, and thanked our advisor for their time.