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Local Housing Allowance

What is Local Housing Allowance?

Local Housing Allowance (LHA) is a way of calculating and paying Housing Benefit for people who rent from a private landlord. It uses a flat rate allowance based on the size of the tenant's household and the area in which the property is rented to decide the maximum amount of Housing Benefit they will receive. Local Housing Allowance does not take account of how much rent you pay. The rate of LHA that tenants receive will be looked at each year.

Who does Local Housing Allowance apply to?

The scheme applies to claimants whose claim began on or after 7 April 2008, existing claimants who change address and claimants who reclaim after a break in entitlement. The Local Housing Allowance scheme does not affect the following:

  • Tenants of Registered Social Landlords (Housing Associations)
  • Tenants of Local Authorities (Council Tenants)
  • Tenants living in hostels, caravans, houseboats and mobile homes
  • Some Supported Housing tenants (tenancies provided by certain authorities, social landlords, charities and voluntary organisations)
  • Tenancies which commenced before 15 January 1989
  • Tenancies where the rent officer judges that a large part of the rent is for board and attendance.

How is Local Housing Allowance calculated?

The Local Housing Allowance used to calculate your Housing Benefit entitlement is based on the area that you live in and how many people live in your household. From April 2013, rates will be updated annually. See table below for the current LHA rates or visit the Local Housing Allowance website for further information.

                                                       Local Housing Allowance - April 2016

Local Housing Allowance Category Broad Rental Market Areas
West Cumbria North Cumbria
Shared Accommodation rate £63.25 £58.90
1 Bedroom rate £79.24 £80.55
2 Bedroom rate £92.05 £94.36
3 Bedroom rate £104.89 £112.77
4 Bedroom rate

£134.02

£141.24

 

Allow one bedroom for:

  • every adult couple
  • any other adult aged 16 or over
  • any two children, regardless of sex, under the age of 10
  • any two children of the same sex under 16
  • any other child (under 16), and
  • one additional bedroom is allowed for a carer where the claimant and / or his partner is a person who requires overnight care

From 1 April 2011, the maximum LHA rate payable for new claims is the four bedroom rate.

What happens if my rent is higher than the Local Housing Allowance?

The maximum benefit you will receive is the Local Housing Allowance rate for the size of your household, in your area.  If your rent is more than this figure, you will be expected to make up the shortfall yourself.

What happens if my rent is less than the Local Housing Allowance?

If your rent is less than your Local Housing Allowance rate, your maximum benefit is the weekly rent you pay,

How is Local Housing Allowance paid?

In most cases we will pay Local Housing Allowance directly to you. You cannot choose to have your Local Housing Allowance paid directly to your landlord. If your landlord agrees to reduce the rent to the Local Housing Allowance rate, we may pay your rent direct to him by BACS.

In some exceptional cases we may decide to pay your Local Housing Allowance directly to your landlord. We have to consider your individual circumstances and be satisfied that you are unable to manage your finances. Our safeguard policy sets out the rules for when we may pay your Local Housing Allowance directly to your landlord.

April 2011 changes

From 1 April 2011 the Government introduced the following changes:

  • end the maximum £15 weekly Housing Benefit excess that some customers received under the Local Housing Allowance arrangements
  • reduced all Local Housing Allowance rates so that 3 in 10 properties for rent in the area should be affordable to people on Housing Benefit rather than 5 in 10 properties as before.

In addition, the measure to include an additional bedroom within the size criteria where a disabled customer or their partner (with a long term health condition), has a need for overnight care that is provided by a non-resident carer was introduced

The questions and answers below are intended to explain in more detail how the changes, as announced in the Emergency Budget, are likely to effect Housing Benefit  entitlement.

Questions and Answers

Will I be affected by the changes to Local Housing Allowance rates?

If you are renting from a private landlord and you made your claim for Housing Benefit at your current address on or after the 7 April 2008 it is likely that you will be affected by these changes.

I have been getting Housing Benefit since before April 2008 could the changes affect me?

Providing you continue to live in the same property and you don’t have a break in your Housing Benefit claim the Local Housing Allowance arrangements will not apply to you.

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 under 16
  • any two children aged under 10
  •  any other child

The maximum allowance is for four bedrooms from 1 April 2011.

From January 2012 the shared accommodation rate was extended to all single claimants under 35 years old. This means if you are single and under 35 years old and live in 1 bed room (self contained) or larger accommodation, your Housing Benefit will be no higher than the shared accommodation rate.

You should consider asking your landlord to reduce the rent. If you are unsuccessful, you may apply for Discretionary Housing Payments.

There are a limited number of exceptions to the "under 35" rule as follows:

  • you are aged under 22 and have been in care, or
  • you 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, or
  • need an extra bedroom for a carer who provides you with the overnight care you need but who doesn’t normally live with you, or
  • 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, or
  • are managed under active multi-agency management under the Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements).

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. 

I am sharing a house with other people will the changes to Local Housing Allowance rates affect me?

The way of setting Local Housing Allowance rates from April 2011 could lead to a reduction in the shared room rate. 


I am living in a self contained studio flat what rate applies to me and am over 35 years of age?

The one bedroom Local Housing Allowance rate will apply to you.

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

Your local authority can 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 your authority will have to consider your circumstances carefully..

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

Make sure that your local authority knows you have an overnight carer so that they can look at your Housing Benefit entitlement again. 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 from the date the legislation becomes effective.

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. However, the Court of Appeal judgment on 15 May 2012 unanimously held that in the cases of Burnip, Trengove and Gorry the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) size criteria discriminated unlawfully against the three appellants on grounds of disability, by not including provision to meet their need for an additional room.

This means that from the date of the Court of Appeal judgment on 15 May 2012, local authorities (LAs) should allow an extra bedroom for children who are unable to share because of their severe disabilities. When a claimant says that their children are unable to share a bedroom, it will be for the council to satisfy themselves that this is the case. Matters which could influnece this decision include for example medical evidence, the children may be in receipt of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for their medical condition. In addition the council must consider not only the nature and severity of the disability, but also the nature and frequency of care required during the night, and the extent and regularity of the disturbance to the sleep of the child who would normally be required to share the bedroom. In all cases this will come down to a matter of judgement on the facts of each individual case

Further information

For further information on Local Housing Allowance for Tenants and Landlords please visit the Local Housing Allowance website or download the leaflets from our Downloadable Documents section below.

If you have any further queries please contact the Benefit Section on: 01900 702650.

Downloadable Documents

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