Steve told us that his landlord had taken three months to produce documents corroborating his rent. During that time the DWP paid no housing element on his Universal Credit, but the landlord still expected his rent. Steve was forced to pay this out of the money he was meant to live on, and then had to rely on family and friends for food and other necessities. The jobcentre had told him that there was nothing they could do and that his housing element could not be backdated. This didn’t seem right so we thought we would ask those nice people at CPAG what he could do about it.
If you are asked to supply evidence of your rental arrangements – and the DWP don’t have to request this though in our experience they always do – then a letter from the landlord or letting agent should be acceptable. If you don’t even have that and need to ask your landlord to produce something, then they are required to do this within a month. If you are eligible for help with housing costs and have supplied all the requested information that you are able to, the rules don’t allow you to be penalised for your landlord failing to do their bit. So Steve can put in a Mandatory Reconsideration to recover his missing Housing Elements payments. As with all important communications it is best to do this by letter as well as via the Universal Credit web journal and keep your own record of everything. You need to point out that you are eligible for the benefit and have done all that was asked of you, and that there is nothing in the regulations that says you should be penalised for the landlord’s failure to comply.
More often, though, delays are not due to the landlord (who has a vested interest in you receiving your benefit and being able to pay them) but to DWP inefficiency – especially people only being asked to supply evidence several weeks after they have submitted their claim. If the DWP is taking ages to come to a decision, your only redress is a letter of complaint, where you can make it clear that if they don’t sort your benefit you will take them to judicial review.