Local housing allowance

The Local Housing Allowance (LHA) scheme is used to assess Housing Benefit for claimants who rent their homes from a private landlord.

The idea of LHA is to simplify the rules, be fairer, to give tenants more freedom financially and to allow choice where they wish to live.

If you rent from a Housing Association then LHA will not affect you.

How does LHA work?

LHA is a flat rate allowance towards rent costs, based on the area where you live and the people that live in your household. In April of each year, the Valuation Office Agency sets a weekly rate of the maximum amount of Housing Benefit we can award based on the number of bedrooms required by each household.

When you claim LHA, the number of people who share the accommodation with you is used to work out the number of bedrooms needed for your household.

One bedroom is allowed for:

  • Every adult couple
  • Every other adult aged 16 or over
  • Any two children aged under 10
  • Any two children of the same sex aged up to 15
  • Any other child
  • A carer who do not live with you but provide you or your partner with overnight care
  • A child who has severe disabilities/condition that prevents them from sharing a room.(This will be a Local Authority decision based on the evidence provided)
  • People who are approved foster carers, whether or not a child has been placed with them or they are between placements, so long as they have fostered a child, or become an approved foster carer in the last 12 months

Adult children who are in the Armed Forces, who continue to live with parents will be allowed a room whilst absent on operational duties and, where the parents are in receipt of Housing Benefit, there will be no non dependant deduction applied until the adult child returns home.

The maximum number of bedrooms allowed for a household when calculating the LHA rate is 4.

Tenants aged under 35 who live alone?

If you are single and under 35 and do not have a non–dependant living with you then the ‘shared accommodation rate’ is used when assessing your claim for LHA.

Tenants aged over 35 who live alone or couples with no dependent children

If you are a single tenant over 35 or a couple with no children then you are entitled to the one bedroom property rate. However if you choose to live in a property where all or some of the facilities are shared then you are only be entitled to the shared accommodation rates.

How much Local Housing Allowance could I get?

The LHA rate is the starting point to work out your entitlement to Housing Benefit. Your claim is based on the LHA rate for the number of bedrooms you require and the amount of income and savings that your household has.

How is LHA paid?

In most cases payment of LHA is made direct to the tenant and it is their responsibility to pay the rent to the landlord. The money is paid direct into a bank account or by crossed cheque.

What if I cannot manage my own affairs?

If you are unable to manage your affairs we shall try to safeguard your benefit payments. This means that your benefit could be paid to your landlord or agent. This can only happen when the appropriate proof has been provided that a customer is not able to manage their own affairs either through illness/severe learning difficulties or severe debt problems.

In these circumstances the authority will require additional information from the customer or from any appointee.

Our safeguard request form is available for you to complete and return to the Benefits department.

I am a Landlord - what if my tenant falls into rent arrears?

If a tenant falls into 8 weeks or more rent arrears than the Landlord can request future payments of LHA to be paid to them. The request form is available for you to complete and return to the Benefits department.

LHA Rates from April 2016

  Eastern Staffordshire BRMA Peaks and Dales BRMA
Shared Accommodation Rate £60.04 per week £67.93
One Bedroom Rate £81.58 per week £90.21
Two Bedrooms Rate £103.56 per week £110.72
Three Bedrooms Rate £123.58 per week £128.19
Four Bedrooms Rate £162.40 per week £168.00

Subsequent Rent Changes

If a claimant’s rent increases during the year and the new rent is still below the appropriate LHA rate then the claimant’s Housing Benefit entitlement will be amended from the date of the increase, as long as we have been informed about the rent increase within one month of the change.