If you rent your home from a private landlord then your housing benefit will be calculated using the Local Housing Allowance (LHA).
There are a few exceptions to this, you:
Please see the section on referral to the rent officer, Valuation Office Agency, later on in this section for details of how your maximum rent will be assessed.
LHA uses a flat rate allowance based on the size of your household and the area in which you rent a property. The amount of LHA paid may be lower than your actual rent as it is not directly related to the rent charged.
Following a four-year freeze on the rates of LHA, an increase of 1.7% (CPI) was announced for 2020-21. However, in response to the Covid-19 pandemic nationally, the rate from April 2020 was increased to the 30th percentile of local rents, subject to the maximum LHA rates, as determined by the Valuation Office Agency. The rates for 2021-22 remained at April 2020 levels, as will rates for 2022-23 and 2023-24.
Payment of LHA will be payable to you by BACS in arrears at the end of the period for which it is due. In exceptional cases where the council considers a tenant to be vulnerable we may make the decision to pay your landlord directly but this decision will be reviewed on a regular basis to confirm that it is still appropriate to pay the landlord.
To enable us to pay you by this method, you have to have a bank account that accepts BACs payments. Complete the online form using the link below.
You will be allowed one bedroom (up to a maximum of four) for each of the following:
From 1 April 2017 the size criteria rules also include:
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:
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 (25 from 31 May 2021) and single tenants aged 25 to 35 (aged between 16 and 35 from 31 May 2021) 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 will not be subject to the restriction.
Visit our Local housing allowance webpage for more information.
If you rent your home from a registered housing association then the amount of rent that will be used in the calculation of your housing benefit will usually be the amount of rent that you are charged, less any deductions for ineligible service charges. Housing benefit will not pay for items such as water rates, care and support, and charges for heating and lighting except in communal areas.
However, your housing benefit may be reduced if you are under the qualifying age for state pension credit and live in a property that is deemed to be bigger than your requirements.
It means a bedroom which is not currently occupied by any of the following:
From 1 April 2017 the size criteria rules also include:
What you use your spare room for is irrelevant. If it is decided that you have more bedrooms than the rules say you need, you will lose part of your housing benefit and must make up the shortfall.
If you have more bedrooms than is necessary for your household you will be considered to be under-occupying that property and your housing benefit will be reduced by:
If your landlord or an agent acting on its behalf provides you with care support and supervision then you may be classed as living in specified accommodation. There are very detailed regulations regarding exempt accommodation, and in most cases it will not make a difference to the amount of rent that can be used in the calculation of your housing benefit.
Tenants who occupy specified accommodation will NOT however have their housing costs paid as part of a universal credit claim. The housing cost element will continue to be paid by the local authority even when you are asked to claim Universal credit. We should already have your claim flagged as meeting the criteria for specified accommodation so do not need to do anything but we may contact you with more information nearer the time.
If your tenancy started before January 1989, or you have a rent that has been registered with the rent service, then your housing benefit will be calculated using the rules that were in place prior to 1996. Your housing benefit will usually be assessed using the same rules as if your tenancy was a newer housing association tenancy.
The local authority may be required to refer your rent to the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) for a decision on the maximum amount of rent that can be taken into account in the calculation of your housing benefit, for example if you rent a mobile home, or are a boarder.
If your rent is referred to the VOA then a yearly referral is required.
If you have an enquiry about benefits, send a message to the Benefits Team
Housing benefit is a means tested benefit so the amount you will get will depend on your household income, the amount of savings you have and the number, and circumstances, of other people who live in your home. The maximum amount of rent that will be taken into account in the calculation will depend on who you rent your home from.
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