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NHAS advises agency worker on DWP decision to not award client the housing costs element of Universal Credit

Posted on 19/04/21

Our free advice line provides specialist advice on housing, housing debt, and welfare benefit issues to help you support your clients.

One of our advisers recently supported a local advice agency worker on challenging a DWP decision to not award their client with the housing costs element of Universal Credit.

Who got in touch with the NHAS advice line?

Local advice agency worker.

What was the problem?

A single female client was refused the housing costs element of Universal Credit. The DWP was not satisfied with the evidence of a tenancy agreement existing.

The client was renting a room in the house of a resident landlord and was concerned about her ability to pay rent as she had previously been homeless.

What we did

Our adviser was able to discuss the case with the agency worker, setting out the regulations relating to eligibility for the housing costs element of Universal Credit and the evidence needed to support the claim.

Our adviser explained ‘to receive the housing cost element of Universal Credit, the claimant must be treated as liable to make the payments in respect of the accommodation on a commercial basis [regulation 25(3) Universal Credit Regulations 2013].

To be treated as liable to pay rent, the claimant must have an agreement which is legally enforceable. It is possible for an agreement to be legally enforceable, even if it is not in writing.’

Our adviser set out the appeal process for benefits decisions and the possibility to seek a mandatory reconsideration not to award the housing costs element as well as a potential appeal to the first-tier tribunal.

Outcome

The agency worker contacted us again to confirm that they had gone back to the DWP, and whilst no final decision was yet made, things were looking more positive.

We are hopeful that the client will be successful in their claim for the housing costs element of Universal Credit.

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