Local Housing Allowance (LHA) is the name given to the way Housing Benefit is calculated for people who rent from a private landlord.
The LHA is a flat rate of Housing Benefit which varies according to the size of your household and where you live. LHA looks at the number of bedrooms you and your household need rather than the actual rent you are being charged.
Your LHA rate determines the maximum Housing Benefit you can receive, but the amount you actually get will depend on things like your income, savings, personal circumstances, and those of the people living with you.
Customers who live in council or housing association accommodation are not affected by Local Housing Allowance and should claim Housing benefit in the normal manner. See our making a claim for housing benefit page.
We allow one bedroom for each of the following:
- a couple
- a single adult or young person aged 16 or over
- two children of the same sex aged 10 to 15
- two children of either sex aged under 10
- any other child (under 16)
- a non-resident overnight carer if you or your partner are disabled and need overnight care.
For example, a couple with a six-year-old son and a four-year-old daughter need a two-bedroom property (one for the couple and one for the children).
We do not count other rooms such as a living room, kitchen or bathroom.
The shared accommodation rate will apply to you if you:
- live in a privately rented house or flat and you have exclusive use of one bedroom and share other rooms such as the living room, bathroom or toilet and kitchen with at least one other tenant. This will apply regardless of your age and will also apply if you are a joint tenant
- are under 35 years old and you live alone, even if you live in self-contained accommodation such as a one-bedroom flat or a studio flat.
If you are 35 years old or more, with no children or dependants, you will only be entitled to the:
- one-bedroom rate if you live in self-contained accommodation
- one-bedroom rate if you have exclusive use of at least two rooms in a shared house or flat
- shared accommodation rate if you have exclusive use of only one room and share other rooms in the house or flat with other tenants.
If you are under the age of 35 and live alone you are entitled only to the shared accommodation rate of LHA. This will not apply if you:
- get the severe disability premium in your benefit because you are entitled to the middle or higher rate care component of Disability Living Allowance
- need an extra bedroom for a carer who provides you with overnight care, but who doesn't normally live with you
- are aged between 25 and 34, and you have spent at least three months in a homeless hostel (even if the three months were not all in one block of time), and you have accepted support services to enable you to be rehabilitated or resettled in the community
- are aged between 25 and 34, and you are an ex-offender who is being supported by a number of agencies, sometimes known as MAPPA
- are aged under 22 and had at some time been subject to a care order since the age of 16
- are aged under 22 and had previously been accommodated by social services
- have one or more children or other people (non-dependants) living with you.
If you share your tenancy with another person, you will be entitled to the:
- shared accommodation rate if you have one bedroom to yourself and share other facilities with the other joint tenant(s)
- one-bedroom rate if you do not share your home with anyone else other than your partner and you are not affected by the rules for under 35s
- the rate for the number of bedrooms you need if you have children or non-dependents.
Local Housing Allowance (LHA) Rent Levels April 2016
Number of bedrooms
The maximum LHA we can pay is the rate for four bedrooms.
The LHA determines the maximum housing benefit you can receive, but the amount you actually get will also depend on your income and savings.
If you are living in a property with a rent that exceeds the LHA rate you need, you will have to make up the difference yourself.
Once your award of Housing Benefit has been calculated using the appropriate rate of LHA, this rate will last for 12 months unless there is a change of circumstances that results in a new rate being used (for example, a child is born and you require an extra bedroom). If there has been no change in circumstances, your benefit will be re-assessed on 1st April each year.
In most cases we will pay LHA directly to you. You cannot choose to have your LHA paid direct to your landlord. The easiest way is to have it paid into a bank or building society account. If you have a bank or building society account you can arrange for your bank or building society to pay your rent direct to your landlord. If you do not have an account you should take steps to open one. Even if you cannot open a current account you should be able to open a basic bank account.
For more information about basic bank accounts visit the Money Advice Service.
We must usually pay the housing benefit to your landlord if you are eight weeks or more in arrears with your rent.
Payment may also be made direct to the landlord where we decide that you are:
- likely to have difficulty in managing your financial affairs
- unlikely to pay your rent
We recognise that receiving payments of LHA will not be appropriate for every tenant. Therefore we have a safeguard policy. The aim of this policy is to ensure that safeguards are in place to help prevent rent arrears and tenants losing their homes and provides assurances to landlords that their rent will be paid if they have vulnerable tenants.
Tenants, landlords, tenants' families or persons acting on the tenants' behalf may tell the Benefit Section that they are having difficulty paying their rent, or are likely to. We may also identify tenants who may have difficulty managing their money; for example, when we are carrying out home visits.
You can request that payments are made to your landlord using an application for direct payment form. Please contact us if you think you need one, or you can download the form.
We decide if we may pay the landlord. There may be times when housing benefit staff know someone has difficulty in managing their money and may take action based on this knowledge. We must have evidence to show that a person has difficulty managing their money and that it is in their interest that we pay the landlord directly. Evidence should usually be in writing.
Once we have collected all the relevant evidence, we will decide as quickly as possible if we should make direct payments to the landlord. We will write to you and explain our decision. We will also write to your landlord. The Benefits Service will make reasonable, fair and consistent decisions in a timely manner. Each case will be considered individually and no assumptions made about people's circumstances.
If you or your landlord disagrees with our decision you can ask us to look at the decision again. This is called a review or you can appeal against the decision, giving reasons why you think the decision is wrong
For further information on Local Housing Allowance you can go the Valuation Office Agency Website.