Ask any social landlord about universal credit and their mood is bound to change. Universal credit should be a thing to celebrate for many as it encourages those on low incomes to manage their finances better but it also creates a far greater challenge as those who fail to manage their finances could end up homeless or in worse financial situations such as in debt to payday loans etc.
It is widely accepted that universal credit will increase arrears recovery by social landlords and proven via various case studies such as the one carried out by Croydon council which found their costs to assist tenants jumped by 50% when trialling universal credit as a means for tenants to pay their rent.
The fear is not just in social tenant arrears but in how much could potentially be in arrears per tenant before eviction takes place.
Halton Housing Trust, a fifth of whose households are now on the full digital universal credit service, has reported a 100% increase year on year in the number of tenants against whom it has started eviction proceedings. Seven tenants owed arrears of at least £2,000 more than they had before going on to the benefit.
Similar cases are being reported with other housing associations such as Gloucester city homes, Curo group and Croydon council in an ever growing list.
Landlords have now set aside cash to deal with bad debt and as a consequence will have less cash to invest in building new homes etc.
The challenges Universal credit brings are a lot and relatively new. Over the next 18 months we will learn a whole lot more about the true effects of universal credit on social landlords and how they can be mitigated.
As of now, we are Huuti look at Universal credit as an opportunity for social tenants to take on more financial responsibility and we are here to help them.
How Huuti will help social tenants and landlords
Social landlords want two things. On time rent payments and tenant mobility, hence tenants moving up from renting to buying or from rent to buy to shared ownership etc
Huuti will help social landlords achieve less rental arrears due to its financial management app. This notifies users of their committed expenditures at the beginning of every month and lets them know how much they have as disposable income with committed expenditure in consideration.
Huuti will also encourage on time rent payments as it reports rent payment performance data to the credit bureaus so tenants can get credit by paying their rent on time by way of a credit score boost.
Huuti will strive to increase a users mortgage affordability thereby increasing the likelihood they begin their relationship as a tenant and proceed on to be a homeowner.
Social landlords have to play a part in encouraging more users up the property ladder. What steps have you taken in your organisation?