Local housing allowance

If you are renting a property or room from a private landlord, the Local Housing Allowance is used to work out how much housing benefit you get. The amount of housing benefit you get will depend on where you live and who lives with you. Payments are normally paid to you, the tenant and it is up to you to pay your landlord.

Who the Local Housing Allowance applies to

If you have been getting housing benefit since before 7 April 2008, the Local Housing Allowance will only apply to you if you:

  • change address or
  • have a break in your claim.

LHA does not apply to tenants who:

  • pay rent to the council
  • pay rent to a registered social landlord (e.g. housing associations)
  • pay a rent that has been registered as a ‘fair rent’
  • have a tenancy that is excluded from the current housing benefit rent restrictions (such as pre-1989 tenancies)
  • live in a hostel, caravan, mobile home or houseboat.

How the LHA rates are worked out

Each local authority is divided into areas called Broad Rental Market Areas (BRMAs). The Rent Service sets monthly LHA rates for different size properties in each of these areas. These are published by the Rent Service and ourselves so that landlords and prospective LHA customers can find out the maximum amount of rent that will be used to calculate housing benefit.

People looking for accommodation will be able to see the LHA rate that will apply to them, before deciding whether to rent a property.

The amount of LHA that a tenant may receive depends on:

  • the area they live in – this will establish the BRMA they fall under
  • who lives with them – this will determine the size of property they are allowed

Property size

When deciding the correct property size, the claimant is allowed one bedroom for:

  • every adult couple (married or unmarried)
  • any other adult aged 16 or over
  • any two children under age 10
  • any two children of the same sex under the age of 16
  • any other child.

Claimants aged under 25 years who live alone

Also known as the shared Local Housing Allowance rate, single claimants aged under 25 years are entitled to the standard rate for a room in shared accommodation. This is based on properties where the tenant has a room of their own but shares all or some of the facilities (for example, a living room, kitchen or bathroom).

This will apply to claimants aged under 35 years who live alone.

How the Local Housing Allowance affect landlords

As well as the amount of housing benefit that can be paid, the main change for landlords is that the LHA will usually be paid to the tenant.

The tenant will be responsible for paying the rent to the landlord.

Safeguards – paying rent directly to the landlord

Safeguards will be put in place to protect tenants that may struggle with the responsibility of paying their rent. We have the authority to make payment direct to a landlord where evidence is provided to support this course of action.

Some circumstances where we may decide to pay housing benefit direct to a landlord are:

  • if we consider that the tenant is likely to have difficulty managing their own affairs. Examples of this could include vulnerable tenants, such as those with disabilities
  • if we think the tenant is unlikely to use their housing benefit to pay their rent. This could be if we know the tenant has consistently failed to pay their rent in the past
  • if the tenant has built up rent arrears of more than eight weeks, we will decide to make payments direct to the landlord - see the eight weeks in arrears from, available to download from this page.
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