Reply To: 53 week rent year – DHP

Peter Barker

This myth resurfaces every few years. It’s rubbish. All the HAs who have stark warnings on their websites about the missing week’s rent are making themselves look foolish.

No-one is losing a week’s rent from their UC because it’s a 53-week rent year.

A UC assessment period can start on any day of any month. If someone happens to have an AP that runs from the 1st of the month, it is true that 53 rent payment days will occur during the 12 months from Monday 1/4/24 down to 31/3/25. 6/7 of the rent for the week beginning 31 March will be included in the UC AP beginning 1/4/25.

The same is true of any 12-month period that begins on any Monday in any year (except when that period includes 29 February).

For example, if your AP runs from the 10th of the month, the 12 APs beginning Monday 10 October 2022 ended on Monday 9 October 2023. Oh look, there were 53 rent days in that 12-month period! Were the HAs bellyaching about that? Of course not. The 12 months beginning 1/4/24 are no different.

I cannot put it any better than Baroness Buscombe did last time the pitchforks were out in 2019:

“No year contains 53 weeks. This perceived issue arises where a landlord charges rent weekly on a Monday and, because of the way the calendar falls every 5 or 6 years, seeks 53 rent payments in a year, with the 53rd payment in part covering the tenancy for the first few days of the following year.

Universal Credit is paid on a monthly cycle. Where a tenant has a weekly rental liability, they will have to make either 4 or 5 rent payments in any one month. This means that claimants are ‘overpaid’ by UC in months where they have to make four rental payments and ‘underpaid’ where they make five. But over time this broadly balances itself out. It is impossible to accurately align weekly and monthly payment cycles at all points in time.

Where a tenant makes a 53rd weekly rent payment on the last Monday of the 2019/20 year, only two days of that payment relates to a liability falling within that year (ie payment covering Monday and Tuesday of that week as Wednesday falls in the new year). Thus, five days of that payment is an advance payment for the following month and that month has only four Mondays and hence four rent payments. The combination of the advance rent payment and the ‘overpayment’ in April 2020 means that the shortfall is immediately recovered.

There is a separate issue with respect to the way the calculation in the Universal Credit regulations converts a weekly liability into a monthly allowance. The conversion is achieved by multiplying the weekly rent by 52 and then dividing by 12. This effectively means one day’s rent a year (two days in a leap years) are not covered by UC. We are currently considering whether this formulation around weekly rents, and potentially other weekly amounts in the UC calculation, should be amended.”