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LHA: information for tenants

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.

LHA affects:

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, unless:

  • 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 organisations
  • tenancies which are excluded from current rent restrictions
  • 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 accommodation

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 (external link) 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 children)
  • 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 about this.

 

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 below:

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 notice.

Contact us

For more information, contact the Benefits team 

Tel: 0300 7900380* 

Email housing.benefits@westlancs.gov.uk.

*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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Last Updated: 8/1/2013

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West Lancashire Borough Council, 52 Derby Street, Ormskirk, West Lancashire L39 2DF
Tel: 01695 577177 | Email: customer.services@westlancs.gov.uk