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HC not verified through the LL portal

VRW
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Livin Housing

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Hi

wondering if anyone else is having this issue

weve had a few of our tenants that have made claims for UC have put their housing costs down however these have not been sent through the portal to be verified?

some people have estimated figures and put service charges down when they dont have them and UC have put these figures into payment without contacting us leading to the tenants being overpaid HC

weve told tenants to go back onto their journal and report the housing costs again but i was under the assumption (maybe naively) that UC had to verify HC before putting them into payment

Timothy Seaside
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Housing services - Arun District Council

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My first response to this was ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. But then I start to cry with despair.

In theory all of your tenants should come through the Portal as long as the address matches one on the list of properties you’ve provided (you can submit a new list via the Properties tab). But in practice we find a significant number don’t. We’re still trying to work out why, and we’ve just started pestering the DWP to try and get the issue cleared up.

We still find that most of the ones who don’t come through on the portal come through for verification by email instead. But I am fairly sure some are falling through the net.

If you know that your tenant is getting UC (and the rent isn’t being verified properly) then perhaps the best way of dealing with it is to advise (and assist if necessary) the tenant to do a change of circs with the correct rent and eligible and non-eligible service charges, and get them to put a note on the journal explaining what’s happened.

The whole thing is dealt with inconsistently by various service centres, but we have found that in one of ours the claim managers are happy to email us with queries - so it can help if your tenant puts a note on the journal to suggest they do this to clear things up (and includes your email address, obviously).

Should they be paying housing costs without verifying the tenancy details? Probably not, but if they get it wrong and there’s an overpayment they can recover it without worrying about whose fault it is. And if there’s been an overpayment and it’s been passed onto the landlord, there’s nothing stopping the landlord from giving the money back to the tenant so they can pay it back to DWP - leaving nobody out of pocket (apart from the administration costs).

I’m feeling a bit cynical at the moment because I’ve been holding the hand of one of our tenants in temporary accommodation through her benefit journey, and she’s just called UC to sort out the Disabled Child and Carer Elements they’ve left off, and they have helpfully persuaded her to add her housing costs to the claim. It hasn’t come up on the Portal yet, but I really hope it does so that we can stop it.

 

Paul_Treloar_AgeUK
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Information and advice resources - Age UK

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I don’t know enough about the landlord portal to know if this is a similar issue but at one of the recent UC stakeholder events, someone from a HA in Doncaster I think said they were having problems whereby the initial UC award was made with housing costs being verified but then claimants were reporting changes to rent and service charges that were, in her words, “at London levels” and receiving hugely increased payments as a result.

Timothy Seaside
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If somebody appears on the Portal and they report a change in rent our experience is that this will always generate a new verification request. But I don’t know whether this is automatic or has to be done by the claim manager. Sometimes we end up playing HC pingpong if the claimant doesn’t enter the correct rent, or service charges, because if our verification doesn’t match their input it (usually) goes back to them to try again - repeat until our figures match.

Worrying about rent increases for benefit claimants is a relatively new thing for social landlords and tenants (especially council) because HB deals with rent increases in bulk from the landlord. With UC it’s the tenants’ responsibility. Although it still appears that about half our tenants haven’t notified UC of their April rent increase (and on further analysis quite a few are still on the previous year’s rent levels), the ones that have, coupled with all the new claims due to Covid-19 have caused a large increase in Portal activity for my colleagues over the past three months.

seand
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Timothy Seaside - 09 July 2020 01:30 PM

In theory all of your tenants should come through the Portal as long as the address matches one on the list of properties you’ve provided (you can submit a new list via the Properties tab). But in practice we find a significant number don’t. We’re still trying to work out why, and we’ve just started pestering the DWP to try and get the issue cleared up.

 

Not sure if you will have the same issue as we do as a landlord in Edinburgh. There are large numbers of flats and these have slightly different (and sometimes very different) ways of writing the addresses. We passed a list of our addresses to DWP to populate the UC system, but there is an in built postcode look up system (prob from Royal Mail?) when making a UK claim. If these two don’t match exactly, then it won’t get picked up and the details won’t appear on the Landlord Portal to be verified.

so,  11a Tenement St will seem to be different from flat a, 11 Tenement St, and from 11 flat a Tenement St and perhaps even 11A or 11 a…

Timothy Seaside
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seand - 09 July 2020 09:41 PM

Not sure if you will have the same issue as we do as a landlord in Edinburgh. There are large numbers of flats and these have slightly different (and sometimes very different) ways of writing the addresses. We passed a list of our addresses to DWP to populate the UC system, but there is an in built postcode look up system (prob from Royal Mail?) when making a UK claim. If these two don’t match exactly, then it won’t get picked up and the details won’t appear on the Landlord Portal to be verified.

so,  11a Tenement St will seem to be different from flat a, 11 Tenement St, and from 11 flat a Tenement St and perhaps even 11A or 11 a…

Thanks. I think this is highly likely to account for some (if not all) of them.  But I’m still uncertain how the ones that don’t go on the portal still get emailed through, and why the DWP doesn’t just add them rather than manually emailing us.

I think I’ll go through the ones that I know aren’t on the portal and check whether our address information matches the Royal Mail postcode database. Although our property list is generated automatically from our own database, we could modify/add some before submitting the list (and if this is the issue, at least we’re not in Edinburgh - we don’t have very many properties with those sorts of addresses).

seand
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Timothy Seaside - 10 July 2020 07:43 AM

Thanks. I think this is highly likely to account for some (if not all) of them.  But I’m still uncertain how the ones that don’t go on the portal still get emailed through, and why the DWP doesn’t just add them rather than manually emailing us.

I think I’ll go through the ones that I know aren’t on the portal and check whether our address information matches the Royal Mail postcode database. Although our property list is generated automatically from our own database, we could modify/add some before submitting the list (and if this is the issue, at least we’re not in Edinburgh - we don’t have very many properties with those sorts of addresses).

My guess is that those claimants that get to the Landlord portal are added automatically, and the DWP staff are not able to replicate this manually so have to send the email verification

seand
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I think we have also had some claims where they didn’t seek verification from us at all. Not sure what went on with those!

Timothy Seaside
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We’ve had an update from the LP team. Apparently they did an exercise in April to put more of the people who should be on the portal onto the portal. And they said that if the claimant’s address exactly matches one on our list, or they say we are their landlord, they will automatically go onto the portal.

They also seem to be saying that they don’t have any plans to do this again and the only way to get tenants onto the portal will be by getting the tenant to do a change of address on their account so that they exactly match the address &/or landlord name.