Local housing allowance

Calculation of benefit for private tenants

If you are a private tenant and make a new claim your entitlement will be calculated using the Local Housing Allowance rates.

Local Housing Allowance (LHA) is the current way of working out new claims for Housing Benefit for tenants renting accommodation from a private landlord. It also affects tenants already getting Housing Benefit who move into accommodation rented from a private landlord. Local Housing Allowance was introduced on 7 April, 2008. If you live in council accommodation or other social housing, Local Housing Allowance does not affect you.

If you were already getting Housing Benefit on 7 April 2008, you will not be affected by LHA unless:

  • you move address to a home rented from a private landlord 
  • you have a break in your claim – if you stop claiming Housing Benefit for any reason (for example, starting employment), any new claim for benefit will be worked out using the Local Housing Allowance rates

With Local Housing Allowance, your benefit is not usually based on the property you live in. It is usually based on: 

  • who lives with you,
  • which area you live in,
  • how much money you have coming in,
  • what savings you have,

In some cases the amount of benefit you are entitled to will be affected by other things. These can include: 

  • how much your rent is,
  • whether anyone living with you is expected to contribute to your rent /household income.

Local Housing Allowance gives tenants a choice in where they live and it's fairer too. This is because with Local Housing Allowance: 

  • you are entitled to the same amount of benefit as people in the same circumstances as you, 
  • you can find out how much benefit you can get before you rent a property, 
  • you can decide how much of your benefit you want to spend on renting a property, 
  • you will usually get your benefit paid to you - it will be up to you to pay the rent to your landlord, 
  • you will find out about your benefit more quickly than before.

How much LHA will you get?

The LHA is set each year by the rent service and gives allowances for households who need up to four bedrooms. If you are making a new claim for help with your rent and need more than four bedrooms to accommodate your family, you will still only receive the maximum LHA for a four bed property. Most tenants receive the LHA based on the number of bedrooms their household needs not the number of rooms in the property they rent, or the rent that they are charged. The LHA awarded when you make a claim lasts for one year, unless your household circumstances change. After one year it is updated.

You can find more information on the Valuation Office website.

The other factors that will determine the amount of LHA you are entitled to are:

  • any money you have coming in 
  • any savings you have 
  • how much your rent is 
  • if we expect anyone living with you to pay towards your rent 
  • if you share paying the rent with someone else who is not your partner.

You can view more details on rates of LHA below.

How many bedrooms are you entitled to?

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 a living room, kitchen or bathroom.
The number of bedrooms you are entitled to is then used to work out which Local Housing Allowance rate applies to you.

You can use the following information as a guide to work out how many bedrooms you are entitled to.

You are entitled to one bedroom for: 

  • every adult couple (married or unmarried) 
  • any other adult aged 16 or over 
  • any two children of the same sex aged under 16 
  • any two children aged under 10 (regardless of sex) 
  • any other child
  • an overnight carer who stays with you but normally lives elsewhere. 

Below are some examples of how many bedrooms certain households would qualify for:

  1. A couple, with a 16 year old daughter, 11 year old son and two 3 year old twins would qualify for a four bedroom home. 
  2. A single mother, who has a 5 year old son and 3 year old daughter, would qualify for a two bedroom property. 
  3. A couple who live with an elderly relative and their 7 year old daughter; will qualify for a 3 bedroom property.

Changes that may affect your LHA entitlement

Any changes that may affect your benefit entitlement are: 

  • income support starting or stopping
  • somebody moving in or out of the household 
  • starting or stopping paid employment
  • a member of the household being in hospital for more than six weeks
  • moving house
  • a change of income such as a pay rise, pay cut or a change in Benefits 
  • a member of the household being awarded with a disability benefit such as Attendance Allowance 
  • a change in rent for private tenants.

How will my LHA payments be made?

Usually you will have your benefit paid directly to you. It will be paid by BACS straight into your bank or building society account.

If you do not already have a bank or building society account, you may want to set one up. That way you can arrange to pay the rent to your landlord automatically, using a standing order. If you do not have a bank or building society account at the time that you make your claim, we can pay you by Cheque. This will then give you time to open an account.

LHA cannot be paid into a Post Office Card Account like some other benefits.

You can get advice about opening and running a bank account from any bank, building society or credit union. You can also get advice from a welfare organisation such as Citizens Advice. 

It is up to you to pay the rent to your landlord. If you don't pay your rent, you may be taken to court and evicted from the property.

Can benefit be paid direct to the landlord?

Your benefit is paid to you, unless you are likely to have difficulty paying your rent. If you are worried about managing your money, let us know. In some cases we may be able to pay your rent to your landlord The criteria are as follows:

  • We consider that a tenant is unlikely to pay their rent. 
  • We think that a tenant cannot handle their own affairs. 
  • Where a tenant is more than 8 weeks in arrears with their rent.
  • If someone else looks after your money for you or there is a power of attorney, payment can be made to that person.

What will happen if the benefit is used for something else?

Your benefit is for you to pay your rent with. If you do not use your benefit to pay your rent, your landlord may take you to court or try to evict you and you may lose your home. If your rent is higher than the LHA then you will have to make up the difference to avoid getting into arrears.

If you are having difficulty paying your rent

If you are having difficulty paying your rent because your rent is more that the LHA rates above you may be entitled to Discretionary Housing Payment – if you need advice or assistance please contact our Customer Services Section on 01753 475111.