A new telephone line connecting a landlord to a Universal Credit claimant’s case manager has been set up as an alternative to the national helpline number in a bid to reduce waiting times, says the Residential Landlords Association (RLA).

However, the tenant must first agree for their landlord to contact the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) on their behalf and give their ‘explicit consent’.

RLA Senior Policy Officer Natalie Williamson said: “This should help to keep consistency with queries as you and your tenant should only be dealing directly with their case manager.

“This should also hopefully cut out confusion over sharing information once you have provided answers to some key questions and the tenant has given their explicit consent.”

The RLA advises landlords with tenants who are in full service Universal Credit areas and those landlords who have tenants on qualifying ‘legacy’ benefits soon to be migrated over to Universal Credit, to be “building positive relationships with your tenants to get the most out of services like this.”

“Many landlords will already be used to helping their most vulnerable tenants with form filling and queries,” said Ms Williamson.

“This is recognition within Universal Credit that this support needs to continue if the tenant is happy for the landlord to do so.”

A DWP spokesperson said: “We know that as a claimant representative, you may need to contact us on their behalf.

“The number to contact us is 0800 328 5644, however explicit consent must be given by the claimant first – usually via the journal, the telephone or in person.”

For more information follow this link: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/universal-credit-detailed-information-for-claimants

Four pieces of “unique identifying criteria” are required to enable the Department to route the call appropriately.

These are: the telephone number the claimant has registered with Universal Credit; their post code; the first line of their address; their date of birth.

From 2019 those claiming existing benefits including families in receipt of Child Tax Credit and Working Tax credit, will start to be migrated across to Universal Credit in the biggest welfare change in a generation.

Richard Truman, Head of Operations at Simple Landlords Insurance says: “Essentially what Universal Credit does is to put the responsibility of paying rent into the hands of tenants on benefits. That has caused arrears problems for some landlords, and measures are being put in place for the full roll-out to ensure both tenants and landlords are supported if problems arise.

“The key is in understanding the system, the safeguards, the options open to you, and in keeping an open dialogue with your tenants and the Universal Credit team in your area.”

Take a look at our Simple Guide to Universal Credit here.