One focus of the guidance is on the importance of face to face visits to tenants to establish exactly who will be affected, ensure that tenants are facing up to realities, and work with tenants to help them budget and pay their rent.
David Bookbinder, Head of Policy and Public Affairs at CIH Scotland, said: "While direct payment of Universal Credit is the greatest of the threats to landlord income, bedroom tax throws up different types of challenges. Although some tenants receiving their UC direct will need a lot of support to make sure they pay their rent, the position is quite simple – they’ve been given the money and it needs paying to the landlord. Bedroom tax too, in pure legal terms, is owed to the landlord. But it’s money the tenant never expected to have to find and which will cause real hardship to many.
"That means some of the challenges for landlords border on being moral dilemmas, and a key part of this guidance looks at specific decisions landlords will have to make on arrears and allocations. For example, is there a difference between the bedroom tax arrears of a long standing tenant compared with those of a tenant who knew about the bedroom tax when accepting the tenancy?
"Another example is – if an applicant refuses an offer because they don’t want to under occupy, is that a reasonable refusal? The guidance doesn’t try to tell landlords what’s right and wrong, but it does draw their attention to the tricky decisions they’ll need to be making.
"The overriding message of the guidance is that putting information in newsletters can only be a first step. Preparing for the welfare reform calls for a project management approach, and central to that surely has to be a programme of visits to tenants most likely to be affected."
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