Local housing allowance
Local Housing Allowance (LHA) was introduced nationally and changed the way housing benefit is calculated for private tenants. It is applied to the calculation of housing benefit based on the size of the tenant’s property and the area they live in. The amount of LHA paid may be lower than your actual rent as it is not directly related to the rent charged. The rate of LHA that is being received will be reviewed on an annual basis.
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Who does it affect?
Local Housing Allowance (LHA) only affects privately rented accommodation. Rather than referring your rent to the rent officer, benefit will be based on the number of rooms required.
LHA does not affect the following tenants:
- Housing Association tenants
- Protected cases, for example supported housing provided by certain local authorities, social landlords, charities and voluntary organisations
- Tenancies which commenced prior to January 1989
- Caravans, houseboats and hostels
- Tenancies where part of the rent is attributable to board and attendance.
Payment of benefit will no longer be payable to the landlord under LHA except in cases where the council feels that the tenant is vulnerable. If we make the decision to pay the landlord, it will be reviewed on a regular basis to confirm that it is still appropriate to pay the landlord.
Payments of LHA will be paid direct to tenants by BACs. To enable us to pay you by this method, you have to have a bank account that accepts BACs payments and complete our BACs online form.
How many rooms will I be allowed?
Local Housing Allowance (LHA) is based on the number of rooms in a property and the area that you live in. Below is a guide to how many rooms you will be allowed.
You will be allowed one bedroom for each of the following:
- Every adult couple
- Any other person aged 16 or over
- Any two children of the same sex up to the age of 16
- Any two children regardless of sex under age 10
- Any other child
- A room for an overnight carer required by the claimant or partner (subject to criteria being met)
- A severely disabled child who cannot share a room with another child
- A room will be allowed for a foster child or children living with an approved foster carer
- Parents of armed forces personnel who are away from home on operations will continue to have them included when applying the size criteria
From April 2011 the maximum amount you can get is the rate for a four bedroom property. If you rent a larger home you will only get LHA up to the maximum level for four bedrooms and it is likely that the LHA won't cover all of your rent.
The number of living rooms, kitchens and bathrooms is ignored as it is assumed that all tenants are entitled to these.
If you are single with no dependant children and are aged under 35 you will only be entitled to the shared room rate even if you occupy something larger. The shared rate will be based on properties where the tenant has exclusive use of one bedroom and the tenancy provides for him to share the use of one or more of the following:
- A kitchen
- A bathroom
- A toilet, or
- A room suitable for living in
The above rules will not apply to single tenants who have the Severe Disability Premium in their benefit assessments. They will be entitled to one bedroom rate of LHA regardless of the size of their property. Care leavers under 22 years old will also receive the rate of LHA for a one bedroom property. In addition, single tenants under the age of 35 who have spent three months or more in a specialist hostel whose main aim is to provide accommodation, care support or supervision with the aim of resettling or rehabilitating in the community, or ex-offenders who are currently subject to an active MAPPA arrangement, will not be subject to the restrictions.
Will the housing benefit increase if the rent increases?
Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates are reviewed annually rather than monthly and the claim is updated in April each year by either the lower of the previous September's consumer price index (CPI) or the previous September's 30th percentile figure.
The LHA rate may change mid-year if there is a change of circumstances that affects the size allowance, for example if someone moves in or leaves the household. You must tell the council if your circumstances change. Additionally from April 2013, we will be able to review LHA cases where there has been a change in rent since the last annual review.
Local Housing Allowance rates
Having set the Broad Rental Market Area (BRMAs), Rent Officers are responsible for calculating the LHAs for different sizes of property in that area. Once the Rent Service has determined the LHA rates for an area, an individual customer's benefit will depend on their age and the size of their household. For example, a person under 35 will receive the shared room rate whilst a couple with one child will receive the two room rate.
Which Local Housing Allowance rate will apply to me?
For more details about local housing allowance, to calculate your bedroom allowance, or to find out what rate is applicable for you, please visit the Valuation Office Agency website
Freezing of local housing allowance rates
Local housing allowance rates will be frozen for four years from April 2016. The rates will remain at the April 2015 rate or will be set at the 30th percentile of local rates if this figure is lower.