Local Housing Allowance - LHA
Local Housing Allowance applies to most people in privately rented accommodation who make a new claim for Housing Benefit on or after 7th April 2008. If you are already receiving Housing Benefit on this date these rules will not apply to you. However. if you move address or stop claiming Housing Benefit for at least one week, we will work out your new claim under the LHA rules.
LHA replaces the old rent referral scheme with a system of Local Housing Allowances based on the area in which the tenant lives and the number of people in the household.
This new scheme will remove the need for the Rent Service to value each individual property and will mean that you can find out how much LHA you could be entitled to before you move into a property.
Every property in the country will be included in a specific Broad Rental Market Area (BRMA) which shows the weekly Local Housing Allowance rates for each area. You can find out which BRMA applies to you.
The Rent Service provides each authority with a set of LHA figures which are to be used. These are weekly figures, and are dependant on the number of bedrooms your family needs, rather than the number of bedrooms you actually have.
LHA uses size criteria for working out the amount of LHA that can be paid. One room is allowed as a bedroom for each of the following occupiers, up to a maximum of 4, with each occupier coming only within the first category which applies to him or her:
- A couple
- A single person aged 16 or more
- Two children of the same sex under the age of 16
- Two children of the same or opposite sex, under the age of 10
- Any other child
- Certain overnight carers
- Foster children
- Certain adult children who serve in the armed forces, who continue to live with parents
Local Housing Allowance is paid to the tenant into a bank account. If you do not have a bank account you will need to a open a new account. Details about basic bank accounts can be found below.
There are a few occasions where LHA can be paid to a landlord. these include:
- If you are eight or more weeks behind with your rent
- If we think that you will have difficulty paying your rent
- If we think that you will not pay your rent
We can also consider paying your landlord if you think that you will have difficulty with these arrangements. You will need to contact us to discuss this, or you can download the application form for Direct Payments of Housing Benefit to your Landlord. You will need to provide supporting evidence.
Further details about Local Housing Allowance can be found on the Directgov website.
New rules apply for single people who are aged under 35 and rent from a private Landlord.
What will the changes mean?
From 1st January 2012 single people aged under 35 will only be entitled to the Housing Benefit shared accommodation rate. By single people we mean someone who is not living:
- as a couple
- with dependant children.
The shared accommodation rate is based on the level of local rents for properties that are not self contained. This usually means that there is a shared
- toilet or
- living room
Who will the changes affect?
These changes will affect you if you:
- rent accommodation from a private landlord
- already get Housing Benefit, or are going to make a new claim
- are single
- do not normally have children living with you
- are under 35 years old
- live in a self contained property
These changes will not affect you if you:
- rent from a local authority or housing association.
- are aged under 22 and have been in care.
- live in supported housing provided by a housing association, registered charity, voluntary organisation or a county council (in England).
- get the severe disability premium in your benefit because you are entitled to the middle or higher rate care component of the Disability Living Allowance.
- need an extra bedroom for a carer who provides you with the overnight care you need but who doesn't normally live with you.
- have spent at least three months in a homeless hostel or hostel specialising in rehabilitating and resettling within the community. To benefit from this exemption you need to have been offered and accepted support services to enable you to be rehabilitated or resettled in the community.
- are managed under active multi-agency management under the Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements.
Shared accommodation rates
You can find out your local shared accommodation rate using the websites below. You can also compare the shared accommodation rate with the one bedroom rate:
What should I do now?
You can get more information at Directgov. Directgov provides information on public services in one place including up to date information on the Housing Benefit changes.
Speak to your local authority Housing Benefit / Housing Service as soon as possible. They can help you to find out exactly how these changes will affect you and talk to you about what your options may be if you are looking for accommodation.
The Valuation Office Agency (VOA) is an executive agency of HM Revenue & Customs and holds information on Local Housing Allowance, fair rents and Council Tax. Visit their website at www.voa.gov.uk/
Citizens Advice provides a wide range of advice. To find your local Citizens Advice Bureau, look in the phone book or Yellow Pages, or visit their website at www.citizensadvice.org.uk/
From 1 April 2011 the Government introduced absolute caps so that Local Housing Allowance weekly rates in any area cannot exceed:
- £250 for a one bedroom property
- £290 for a two bedroom property
- £340 for a three bedroom property
- £400 for a four bedroom property
The caps are most likely to affect people who are renting properties in central London boroughs. If your weekly rent is more than the cap for the Local Housing Allowance rate that applies to you, your Housing Benefit will be reduced.
If you are concerned that you may not be able to afford to remain in your home, you can speak to the Housing Advice Team at Wychavon District Council, Civic Centre, Queen Elizabeth Drive, Pershore, Worcs WR10 1PT. Alternatively, you can call the Housing Advice Team on 01386 565020. To make the most of the assistance the Housing Advice Team is able to offer, it is important to seek advice as early as possible.