Local Housing Allowance
Housing benefit in the private rented sector has been replaced by the Local Housing Allowance (LHA). LHA makes it your responsibility to pay the rent directly to your landlord.
How does it work?
LHA makes it easier for tenants and landlords to find out in advance how much rent could be covered by way of housing benefit. The amount of LHA depends on your household income and capital, but the LHA figures determine the rent that the benefit calculation is based upon, and represents the maximum that you could receive.
LHA is based on the rent levels for the area in which you want to live and on the number of people that live with you. To find out the LHA rent levels that apply to you and your postcode visit the Direct Gov website.
How to apply
If you think you may be entitled to LHA you need to complete and return a Benefits Application Form (PDF File, 314kb). You can also pick up a form from any of our local offices. Alternatively, call 01636 650000 or e-mail email@example.com
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.
Important. Special rules may apply if you are under 35 or live in shared accommodation. Please contact us on 01636 650000 for further information.
I need a property with more than four bedrooms. Will I only get benefit at the four bedroom rate?
The maximum Local Housing Allowance 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, but if you move into a property with more than 4 bedrooms, the maximum Local Housing Allowance you could be entitled to would be capped at the 4 bedroom rate.
I am living in a self contained studio flat what rate applies to me?
The one bedroom Local Housing Allowance rate will apply to you.
The rent I am paying is likely to be more than the housing benefit I will get. What should I do?
You can talk to your landlord about the changes and see if they will reduce the rent on your property. If that isn’t possible you could start looking for somewhere cheaper. You might want to talk about your situation with us, our Housing Options team or a local Citizens Advice Bureau.
My landlord won’t reduce my rent and it is going to be difficult for me to move is there any other help?
We can help some people with a gap between their Local Housing Allowance entitlement and the rent they pay by awarding a Discretionary Housing Payment. The amount of money available for these payments is limited so we will have to consider your circumstances carefully. Please contact us for more information.
My housing benefit is paid directly to my landlord, what should I do if my LHA rate is reduced? Or how will I know that the amount paid to my landlord will still meet my rent?
We will send you a letter telling you about any changes to your Local Housing Allowance. If we pay your Local Housing Allowance to your landlord we will also write to them.
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 we know you have an overnight carer so that we 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.
Local Housing Allowance – Landlord Information
I'm a Landlord - what information can you give me?
We believe that landlords are an important stakeholder in the service that we provide. We aim to work with landlords to ensure that they receive payment promptly and to ensure that overpayments are minimised. In return we ask landlords to respect our obligations towards claimant confidentiality and the Data Protection Act when they make enquiries about their tenants.
By law we must pay LHA to the tenant unless they would not be able to manage their rent payments (for example, because they have a learning disability, have language problems, are ill, are in a lot of debt or are addicted to drugs, alcohol or gambling). In such circumstances we can pay the landlord directly.
Please note that if you accept direct payment from us we may require you to pay back money if your tenant receives housing benefit to which they are not entitled.
When we pay housing benefit directly to a landlord and their tenants entitlement to housing benefit changes we may ask the landlord to repay the money that has been overpaid. Each case is decided on its own merits. If we decide that it is appropriate to recover the money from the landlord we will invoice them. The invoice will show the period of the overpayment the name of the tenant and the amount of the overpayment.