Local housing allowance
What is housing allowance?
Local Housing Allowance (LHA) is a way of working out and paying Housing Benefit for people who rent from a private landlord. It was introduced on 7th April 2008. With Local Housing Allowance, benefit is based on the number of bedrooms you need and not how much the rent is.
Housing Benefit is still based on your income, savings and proof or rent, etc.
Who does Local Housing Allowance affect?
- Anyone who lives in privately rented accommodation and makes a new claim for Housing Benefit.
- People already claiming benefit who change address and rent their property from a private landlord.
- People already claiming benefit in privately rented accommodation, who have a break in their claim.
Who does Local Housing Allowance not affect?
- You rent your home from your local council.
- You rent your home from a housing association.
- You have a tenancy that started before 15th January 1989.
- Your rent has been registered with the rent officer as a ‘fair rent’.
- You live in a caravan, mobile home or houseboat.
- Your home is provided by a County Council, Housing Association, Registered Charity or voluntary organisation and you are provided with care, support or supervision.
- You live in board and lodging and the rent officer decides that a substantial part of the rent is for board and attendance.
How do you calculate benefit under Local Housing Allowance?
The amount of benefit you can get under Local Housing Allowance rules is based on:
- Who you live with.
- The number of bedrooms your family needs.
- The area you live in.
- The amount of money you have coming in.
- What capital/savings you have.
The Local Housing Allowance rates may vary in each area and will be set by an independent rent officer, based on local rents. We will publish the Local Housing Allowance rates every year; you can find the current rates here.
These rates will determine the maximum amount of benefit you may get.
If you are unsure which district you fall under then please use the local council finder
What is different about Local Housing Allowance?
With Local Housing Allowance, you will know before you find somewhere to live how much help with your rent you might get. By knowing how much you might get, it will be simpler for you to decide what type of property you can afford.
How many bedrooms do I need?
The number of people who live with you is used to work out how many bedrooms you are entitled to. We do not count other rooms, such as living room, kitchen or bathroom. You are allowed one bedroom for:
- Each adult couple.
- Any other person aged 16 or over.
- Any two children of the same sex aged under 16.
- Any two children aged under 10, regardless of their sex.
- Any other child.
For all private rented cases, another bedroom can be allowed where the person claiming, or their partner, requires overnight care. This is for a non-resident carer.
The number of bedrooms you are assessed as needing is used to work out which Local Housing Allowance rate applies to you. For instance:
- A couple (or lone parent) with one child would be assessed as needing two bedrooms.
- A couple (or lone parent) with two sons aged 6 and 11 would also be assessed as needing two bedrooms.
- A couple (or lone parent) with a son aged 11 and a daughter aged 6 would be assessed as needing three bedrooms.
In some cases, there are extra rules – these are looked at in the next section.
If you are under 35 and...
- Live alone
- Not severely disabled
- Not a care leaver aged under 22
- Not a former resident of a specialist hostel for homeless persons
- Not an ex-offender who poses a risk to the public
Your benefit will be based on the Local Housing Allowance shared rate no matter the size of housing that you occupy.
If you are a care leaver under 22...
- or live with a care leaver aged under 22 who is your partner
- and you have no dependent children living with you
Your benefit will be based on the Local Housing Allowance one room rate no matter the size of housing that you occupy. Once a care leaver reaches the age of 22, the shared accommodation rate applies.
If you are part of a couple or single and over 35...
If you are part of a couple, or are single over 35 and have no dependent children living with you:
Your benefit will be based on the one bedroom Local Housing Allowance rate, if you:
- live in self-contained accommodation or
- live in shared accommodation, but have sole use of two (or more) rooms.
However, your benefit will be based on the shared lodging rate if you:
- live in housing where you share facilities with other people
- and have sole use of one room only
If you are severely disabled...
If you have the Severe Disability Premium included in your benefit assessment:
- or live with a severely disabled partner
- and have no dependent children
Your benefit will be based on the one bedroom Local Housing Allowance rate regardless of the size of housing that you live in.
How will benefit be paid?
Benefit will normally be paid to you and it will be your duty to pay your rent to your landlord. You cannot have your benefit paid direct to your landlord.
Local Housing Allowance will normally be paid directly into a bank account. This means that you will need to open a bank account if you do not have one already. You can then arrange for your bank or building society to pay your rent to your landlord automatically.
The government knows that some tenants may struggle with paying their rent and has provided guidance on when direct payment to the landlord may be suitable. This means that we can still pay benefit to your landlord if we think that you might have difficulty managing your money.
When can the council make payments to the landlord?
Although you cannot choose to have your benefit paid to your landlord, the council can pay benefit to your landlord in certain conditions:
- If you are eight weeks or more in arrears with your rent.
- If you are likely to have difficulty managing your money.
- If you are unlikely to pay your rent.
Who can ask for the payments to be made to the landlord?
The following people may tell the council that you are having difficulty paying your rent.
- You can approach the council yourself.
- Your friends or family.
- A person acting on your behalf.
- Your landlord.
The council may also identify tenants who may have trouble managing their money from our own face to face contact, such as when carrying out home visits.
This information is for guidance only. It is not meant to say exactly what your legal rights are.
While we have tried to make sure that the information is correct, it is possible that there may be incorrect information or some ideas may be simplified.
This information is likely to become less accurate over time due to changes to the law.