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Local Housing Allowance (LHA)

The Local Housing Allowance (LHA) applies to tenants renting from a private landlord (unless your rent includes meals or you rent a caravan or boat). It does not apply to anyone renting from the council or a housing association.

It does not replace Housing Benefit. It uses a flat rate allowance based on the size of the tenant’s household and the area in which they rent property to decide the amount of benefit they will receive.

The rate of LHA that customers receive will be reviewed on an annual basis.

Other circumstances, such as the money that the tenant has coming in or other people living in the household, will still affect the amount of benefit paid so the tenant may not always receive the full rate of LHA.

LHA will apply to Housing Benefit customers in the deregulated private sector and mainstream private tenancies only.

The new LHA rules will not apply to:

  • Local Authority tenants
  • Registered social landlord tenancies (Housing Associations)
  • Protected cases, such as supported housing provided by certain local authorities, social landlords, charities and voluntary organisations;
  • Tenancies which are excluded from current rent restrictions (such as pre-1989 tenancies);
  • Caravans, houseboats and hostels;
  • Cases where the rent officer judges that a substantial part of the rent is attributable to board and attendance (e.g. hotel accommodation which already exists in the private sector).

Customers renting within these sectors will continue to receive Housing Benefit calculated under existing rules.

To work out how much benefit you are entitled to you need to know how many bedrooms you are entitled to and which Local Housing Allowance rate applies to you.

The number of people who live with you is used to work out how many bedrooms you are entitled to. Other rooms, such as living room, kitchen or bathroom are not counted. 

The number of bedrooms allowed is calculated as follows:

  • one bedroom for
    • every adult couple
    • any other adult aged 16 or over
    • any two children of the same sex
    • any two children regardless of sex under age 10
    • any other child (except foster children)
  • one additional bedroom where the customer or partner require overnight care **
  • one additional bedroom for a severely disabled child who would normally be expected to share a bedroom under size criteria rules but is unable to do so due to their disability.
  • one additional bedroom for a claimant or partner in receipt of Attendance Allowance, DLA (care), Personal Independence Payment (daily living component), AFIP(Armed Forces Independent Payment) where overnight care is required **
  • One additional bedroom for a foster child or children of an approved foster carer.

Subject to a maximum allowance of four bedrooms.

**In order to consider if an additional bedroom can be allowed for an overnight carer, we will need to consider:

  • If there is a medical need for care
  • The nature and severity of the disability
  • The nature and frequency of the care required during the night
  • The extent and regularity to which the disability or care affects the sleep of the child expected to share a bedroom.

A person who requires overnight care is likely to be a person who:

  • receives Attendance Allowance (AA), or
  • receives the middle or highest rate care component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or the daily living component of PIP, or
  • if they do not receive either of the above, has provided the us with sufficient evidence to show that this type of care is required.

Example
John and Sally have three boys aged 11, 8 and 6. John’s mother also lives with them. They are allowed:

  • a bedroom for themselves,
  • one for their 11 year old,
  • one for the 8 and 6 year olds to share
  • one for John’s mother.

There are separate rules for some groups:

  • Aged 35 or over, are single and do not live with any dependants
  • Aged less than 35, are single and do not live with any dependants
  • A couple and do not live with any dependants
  • You are a care leaver aged under 22
  • Aged 25 - 35 and have lived in a specialist homeless hostel for 3 months
  • You are severely disabled
  • Ex-offenders aged 25 - 35

 You may be entitled to an extra room rate where either you or your partner is classified as a “qualifying parent or carer”. The conditions are that you have a spare bedroom; and either:

  • You have a child placed with you; or
  • You are approved foster carers but do not currently have a child placed with you (subject to a maximum of 52 weeks)

If you consider that you may be affected by this guidance, please contact us.

To work out how much benefit you might get you need to find out what Local Housing Allowance rate your benefit will be based on.

If you are 35 or over, single and do not live with any dependants, your benefit will be based on the one bedroom Local Housing Allowance rate if you live in:

  • a self-contained property
  • shared accommodation but have two or more rooms (bedrooms or living rooms) that no-one else can use

By a self-contained property we mean one where you have your own room plus your own:

  • bathroom
  • toilet, and
  • kitchen (or facilities to cook with)
  • For example, this could be a one-bedroom flat.

If you are 35 or over, single and do not live with any dependants, your benefit will be based on the Local Housing Allowance shared room rate if you live in shared accommodation unless you have two or more rooms (bedrooms or living rooms) that no-one else can use.

You also need to find out if you can get the full amount of benefit.

The amount of benefit you can get may be affected by:

  • any money you have coming in
  • any savings you have
  • how much your rent is
  • if you share paying the rent with someone else

To work out how much benefit you might get you need to find out what Local Housing Allowance rate your benefit will be based on.

If you are aged under 35, are single and do not have any dependants, you can only get the Local Housing Allowance shared room rate.

However there are special rules if you are:

  • a care leaver aged under 22
  • aged 25 - 35 and have previously lived in a hostel
  • severely disabled

Example
Brian is single and is 33 years old.

  • As he is under 35, he is entitled to the Local Housing Allowance shared room rate.
  • When he reaches 35, he will be entitled to the one bedroom rate, provided he rents accommodation of this type.

You also need to find out if you can get the full amount of benefit. The amount of benefit you can get may be affected by:

  • any money you have coming in
  • any savings you have
  • how much your rent is
  • if you share paying the rent with someone else

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. I understand that single people under 35 are only entitled to the shared accommodation rate of the Local Housing Allowance. Is that right?
A. Yes, your award will be based on the shared accommodation rate.

Q. I am a lone parent who is under 35. Will I be limited to the shared accommodation rate?
A. No. These changes do not apply to lone parents, or to couples. They only apply to single claimants who live alone in private rented accommodation and who are under 35.

Q. I am a council or housing association tenant. Will I have to move to shared accommodation?
A. No. These changes only apply to accommodation rented from a private landlord. They do not apply to tenants of registered social landlords i.e. housing associations

Q. I am a joint tenant in a shared house. Will this change affect me?
A. No. If you are a joint tenant in a shared house living with non family members, you will probably already be getting housing benefit at the shared accommodation rate. If so, you will not be affected by this change.

Q. I have been getting housing benefit at this address since before 7 April 2008. I have been told that my benefit will not be affected by the change. Is this right?
A. If you claimed housing benefit before 7 April 2008, and you have not moved or had a break in your claim since that date, you will not be affected.

Q. I was living in a one bedroom flat with my partner. We have split up and my partner left the property. Will I be affected by the change, and when will I be affected?
A. If you do not have children and your partner has moved out, you will move onto the shared accommodation rate from the Monday after your partner leaves the property.

If you are 25 years of age and have spent at least three months in a specialist hostel (or hostels) for homeless people, where the main purpose of that hostel is to provide accommodation, care, supervision or support with a view to assisting homeless people to be rehabilitated or resettled in the community you will be exempt from the shared accommodation rate.

However for this exemption to be applied you will need to have been offered and accepted support services for rehabilitation or resettlement in the community during the time in the hostel.

Does it matter when I last stayed at the hostel?
It will not matter how long before the benefit claim is made that you moved out of the hostel into settled accommodation, or at what age you were living in the hostel, (although you will need to be aged 25 or over to qualify for the exemption).

Also is isn’t necessary for the three months stay to be continuous or to be spent in the same hostel.

You will need to provide us with evidence of your stay in an appropriate specialist hostel (or hostels) as well as confirmation that you had been offered and accepted support during your stay.

If you are a joint tenant this might affect the benefit you can get. For more information about joint tenants, please contact us.

The Local Housing Allowances rates are reviewed in April every year. The rates may increase, decrease or stay the same.

Number of bedrooms Category Weekly amount
Shared accommodation A £50.00
One bedroom B £72.98
Two bedrooms C £92.05
Three bedrooms D £103.56
Four bedrooms E £126.58

Other things that may affect the amount of LHA you are entitled to:

  • Your income
  • Your savings
  • If anyone aged 18 or over lives with you
  • If you have a joint tenancy
  • The amount of your rent

If your rent is less than the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rate that applies to you, your benefit entitlement will be based on the rent that you pay. If your rent is more than your LHA rate you will have to pay the difference yourself.

You may want to consider:

  • Negotiating a lower rent with your landlord
  • Looking for cheaper accommodation
  • Looking for employment/training opportunities
  • Apply for a  Discretionary Housing Payment.

In the majority of cases, benefit will be paid to you as the customer who is responsible for making your own payments of rent to your landlord.

In certain circumstances, benefit can be paid directly to the landlord. If we have evidence that the tenant is not paying the rent or is unlikely to pay their rent, we can make payments direct to the landlord.

The customer may have learning difficulties, a medical condition or educational needs that suggest that they may have difficulty in handling their own financial affairs; they may not be able to read or have language difficulties; they may suffer from drug or alcohol addiction; or have debt problems and eight weeks rent arrears have built up.

If rent arrears are owed, we will arrange to make payments direct to the landlord unless it is not in the customer’s overriding interests to do so. However landlords are encouraged not to wait for the 8 week period to be reached before contacting us.

Page updated on: 14/11/2017

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