Local Housing Allowance (LHA) is a form of housing benefit
for private tenants which came into effect from 7
April 2008. The amount of money you'll receive is based on the area
you live in and who lives with you. Payment is made to the tenant,
who then pays the landlord.
People who rent from a private landlord. If you are a private
tenant who applied for or received housing benefit before 7 April
2008 you will continue to be assessed under the old rules,
- you move address, or
- you have a break in your claim of one week or more
You'll then be reassessed under the LHA rules.
LHA does not affect:
- council tenants
- tenancies registered with social landlords
- protected cases, such as supported housing provided by certain
local authorities, social landlords, charities and voluntary
- tenancies which are excluded from current rent
- tenancies in caravans, houseboats, and hostels
- tenancies where the rent officer decides that a substantial
part of the rent is for board and attendance such as hotel
Exempt cases will have their housing benefit calculated under
the existing rules.
How the allowance is worked out
The amount of money you'll receive is based on the area you live in
and who lives with you.
The LHA rates vary depending on the size of the property you need.
You can check how many rooms you are entitled to on
the Rent Service
website. The LHA rates are set by an
independent rent officer and are based on local rents, so are set
specifically for the local area.
How much will you receive
Once the rate you are entitled to is worked out, we then look at:
- the money you have coming in, including earnings, some benefits
and tax credits and things like occupational pensions
- your savings
You won't usually get Local Housing Allowance if:
- you have savings of over £16,000 (unless you're aged 60 or over
and getting the 'guarantee credit' of Pension Credit)
- you live in the home of a close relative
- you're a full-time student (unless you're disabled or have
- you're an asylum seeker or sponsored to be in the UK
Your LHA may not match your rent
LHA doesn't depend on how much rent you pay. One of the
objectives of the scheme is to give you more choice and
responsibility for your money. If your rent is higher than your
LHA, you'll need to make up the difference. In exceptional
circumstances you may be able to get a discretionary housing
payment to help pay the difference. Contact us for more information
How LHA payments are made
Payment is made to you as the tenant, then you must pay your
landlord yourself. You'll need a bank account to receive payments
(we can't pay LHA into a post office card account).
If you don't have a bank account, you'll need to set one up. Most
banks have basic bank accounts which are available to people who
have had previous credit problems.
For more information on opening a bank account please see the
Financial Services Authority booklet by clicking on the link
Paying your landlord
You need to pay your landlord yourself from your LHA. If you can't
take responsibility for the payment of rent, then the council can
make payments direct to your landlord if there is a good reason to
do so. If you're worried about taking this responsibility then you
should talk to us about your concerns.
Your benefit is for you to pay your rent with. If you don't 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.
We won't talk to your landlord about your claim unless you've given
written permission. However, if you're more than eight weeks in
arrears your landlord has the right to ask for direct payments, and
in those circumstances we'll confirm the amount of benefit to which
you are entitled to your landlord.
Tell us about a change of circumstance
If you have a change in your circumstances, you must inform the
benefits team immediately, and in writing. If you have a change in
your circumstances that affects the number of rooms you are
entitled to, then the LHA figure can be changed. The new allowance
will last for a year from the date the change happened.
Appealing against your LHA rate
You can't appeal against the level of the LHA you've been set - the
rate used is the same for everyone qualifying for that room
requirement in that month. However you do have the right to dispute
any decision we've made when calculating your claim. You can ask
for an explanation of the calculation or you can make a written
request for a review or for an appeal hearing. A leaflet about this
and the time limits for a dispute will be sent with your decision
For more information, contact the Benefits team
Tel: 0300 7900380*
*Calls to 03 numbers cost no more than a
national rate call to an 01 or 02 number and count towards any
inclusive minutes in the same way as 01 and 02 calls. These rules
apply to calls from any type of line including mobile, BT, other
fixed line or payphone.
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