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Local Housing Allowance

Local Housing Allowance (LHA) is payable to claimants who live in privately rented accommodation.

Make an application

With Local Housing Allowance you will get the same amount of benefit as people in the same circumstances as you, regardless of the type of property you live in.  You can find out how much Local Housing Allowance you can get before you rent a property, then this amount is paid direct to you. 

If you don’t pay your rent you may be evicted from the property.

If your rent is higher than the LHA, you will have to make up the difference.  In some circumstances we can pay the landlord with the tenant's agreement. The section below tells you about this. 

Direct Payments to Claimants

The easiest way to receive LHA is straight into a bank account. This means that benefit is received on the day that it is due and a standing order or direct debit can be set up to pay the rent.

To arrange for LHA to be paid into a bank account, please contact the Benefits Service or complete the Change of Payments Form

LHA cannot be paid into a Post Office Card Account like some other benefits. You will need to have an account with a high street bank.

The Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) provide a Money Advice Service and they can help tenants by giving advice on:

  • Opening bank accounts (see guide at the bottom of this page)

  • Setting up standing orders

  • Making changes to household budgeting

  • Rescheduling debts  

Direct Payments to Landlords

If someone feels they cannot cope with the process of paying rent to the landlord each month, it may be possible for us to pay LHA directly to the landlord.

A Direct Payments Application Form needs to be completed giving us reasons why you think your LHA should be paid to your landlord.  We may need to ask for further evidence.

The council's Safeguards for Tenants and Landlords Policy tells you how we make decisions to pay private landlords.

Eight Weeks Arrears

If we are told that you owe more than eight weeks rent, we will look at paying your LHA directly to the landlord until the amount owing has been cleared.  To make this decision we will look at the evidence provided.

There are many reasons why someone cannot manage their money and paying the landlord may only be a short term arrangement. There are a number of local advice agencies who may be able to offer support.

If you are worried about managing your money, ask us if we can help. In special cases we may be able to pay your rent to your landlord.

Change of circumstances

If you move to a new address or other circumstances change, you should tell us straight away. You may need to make a fresh claim for Local Housing Allowance.

To find out how much Local Housing Allowance you may receive ring 0300 5558100

Working out what you might get

The Local Housing Allowance (LHA) for private tenants is worked out according to:

  • Who lives with you

  • How much money you have coming in

  • What savings you have

The number of people who are included in your claim for LHA will be used to work out how many bedrooms you are entitled to. This number will correspond to the category of LHA you will get. We do not count other rooms such as a kitchen or bathroom.

Size criteria

You are allowed one bedroom for:

  • Every adult couple (same or opposite sex)

  • Any other adult aged 16 or over

  • Any two children of the same sex aged under 16

  • Any two children under age 10

  • Any other child

Local Housing Allowance rates for 2016/17

The table below shows the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates applicable to private tenants making a claim this year.  These are the maximum amounts for each category. The actual amount you will be entitled to will depend on your income and savings. 

Category

Type of property

Weekly Amount from
1 APR 2016

Monthly Amount from
1 APR 2016

A

1 room with shared living room and:
a) shared kitchen, toilet and bathroom or

b) exclusive use of kitchen/kitchen facilities or

c) exclusive use of bathroom and toilet with shared kitchen

£60.00

£260.00

B

1 bedroom property

£86.30

£373.97

C

2 bedroom property

£104.89

£454.52

D

3 bedroom property

£120.29

£521.26

E

4 bedroom property

£151.50

£656.50


Category A is applied for those who do not live in self contained accommodation.

Category A also applies to all claimants under 35.

Previous Local Housing Allowance rates for 2015/16

These were the same as shown above.


Frequently Asked Questions

What if the rent is more than the LHA, can the rent still be increased?

The landlord can charge whatever rent they feel appropriate, however Housing benefit will still be based on the LHA regardless of what is being charged.

If there is a rent increase due on a property in April, can the landlord base the rent on the LHA figure?

The landlord can charge any rent he/she feels is appropriate. If that amount equals the LHA rate for that size of property then that is fine.

How often will the tenant be paid?

4 weekly in arrears or calendar monthly in arrears.

Where the council can pay the landlord if the tenant is in 8 weeks arrears, is that 8 weeks of the LHA rate?

No it is 8 full weeks rent arrears which could have accrued at anytime.

Why do you have to wait until someone is 8 weeks in arrears before you can swap payments to the landlord?

Because that is the time limit set in legislation. However if a tenant doesn’t make the first payment to the landlord at the due date the landlord should contact us with evidence and we may be able to pay earlier.

How do I know which Local Housing Allowance rate applies to me?

You can use the following information as a guide to work out how many bedrooms you are allowed. You are allowed one bedroom for:

  • Every adult couple (married or unmarried)

  • Any other adult aged 16 or over

  • Any two children of the same sex aged fewer than 16

  • Any two children aged fewer than 10

  • Any other child

The maximum allowance, regardless of who lives in your home, is for four bedrooms.

Different rules may apply if you are under 35 or live in shared accommodation.

Please see the Local Housing Allowance rates above to give you an idea of the amount of rent that might be met by Housing Benefit.

The Local Housing Allowance rates are set in April for the year.

I need a property with more than four bedrooms. Will I only get benefit at the four bedroom rate?

The maximum Housing Benefit you get will be based on the four bedroom rate. You can still look for properties with more than four bedrooms, or other rooms that can be used as bedrooms, with rents that are within the four bedroom rate.

If I am thinking of renting and claiming Housing Benefit, how much rent should I agree to pay?

There is information available about the levels of Local Housing Allowance rates that apply based on current rent levels.

Please see the Local Housing Allowance rates above to give you an idea of the amount of rent that might be met by Housing Benefit.

The rent I am paying now is likely to be more than the Housing Benefit payment. What should I do?

You could: 

  • Talk to your landlord to see if it might be possible to renegotiate the rent

  • Think about whether or not you might be able to afford the difference

  • If you have other debts, think about getting some money or debt advice. You might be able to afford your rent if your other debts are reduced. You can get advice from other people such as a Citizens Advice Bureau

  • If your tenancy agreement is due to be renewed think about whether or not you are able to look for somewhere cheaper before you agree to a new period.

My landlord won’t reduce my rent and it is going to be difficult for me to move is there any other help?

As a local authority we may be able to help some people with a Discretionary Housing Payment to meet the gap between their benefit entitlement and the rent they pay. The amount of money available for these payments is limited so we have to consider your circumstances carefully. These payments are also for short periods and will not help you to afford your rent on a long term basis.

My Housing Benefit is paid directly to my landlord, what should I do if my Local Housing Allowance rate is reduced? Or how will I know that the amount paid to my landlord will still meet my rent?

We will write to you to let you know how much Housing Benefit you are entitled to. You might find it will also help to talk to your landlord.

Do I have to be getting Housing Benefit under the Local Housing Allowance arrangements to get the allowance for another bedroom for an overnight carer?

No. This change applies to all tenants who meet the qualifying conditions. The qualifying conditions are that:

  • Overnight care is required and provided

  • A spare bedroom is available for the carer

  • The carer does not live in the tenant's property

I think I will be due an increase in my Housing Benefit because I have a carer who stays overnight – who should I tell?

Contact us with this information.

You must already have an extra bedroom in your home available for the carer to use before you get this help. If you are already getting Housing Benefit and meet the conditions for this extra help you will be entitled to it.

What about extra rooms for other circumstances such as disabled children, couples that cannot share a room or where extra space is needed for medical equipment?

The change only applies where the person making the Housing Benefit claim, or their partner, needs overnight care.