Local Housing Allowance

The Local Housing Allowance (LHA) is the way we work out Housing Benefit entitlement for most tenants in privately rented accommodation.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I claim?

Please see our New claims for Housing Benefit page for details of how to claim.

Payment of Local Housing Allowance

Whenever possible we have to pay LHA to the tenant so that they are responsible for paying their own rent.

We can decide to pay your landlord:

  • If you don't use your LHA to pay your rent; or
  • You have a history of rent arrears; or
  • You have rent arrears of eight weeks or more; or
  • You find it difficult to manage finances; or
  • Your landlord helps you to get a new tenancy or keep your current tenancy, by charging a reduced rent that you can afford.

Further details can be found in our Safeguards Policy.

The quickest and safest way to receive your benefit is for it to be paid directly into your bank/building society or credit union account.

If you do not have a bank/building society or credit union account and would like further information on opening such accounts, please contact us.

You can also get help and advice from the Citizens Advice Bureau about how to open a bank account.

What size of property can I claim for?

LHA rates are broken down into room rates which apply depending on the number of household members occupying the property. For further details please see Local Housing Allowance rates.

An additional bedroom for a non-resident career can be allowed where you or your partner require overnight care.  For further details please see the application form.

The maximum number of rooms that a family can receive LHA for has been restricted to four bedrooms. If your family requires five bedrooms or more, your LHA will be calculated on the four bedroom rate.

Aged under 35 or living in shared accommodation

If you are aged under 35 and live on your own or you live in shared accommodation we use the shared accommodation rate of the Local Housing Allowance.

From 1 January 2012 the shared accommodation rate was extended to people under 35 living on their own who rent from a private landlord.

Exemptions from the shared accommodation rate

If you are under 35 and live alone, the shared accommodation rate does not apply to you if you are:

Under 35, living in shared or self-contained accommodation and:

  • Get the Severe Disability Premium in your benefit because you are entitled to the middle or higher rate care component of Disability Living Allowance.
  • You are a care leaver under the age of 22.

Aged 25 to 34, living in self-contained accommodation and:

  • Have spent at least three months in a homeless hostel or hostels specialising in rehabilitation and resettling within the community (to benefit from this exemption you need to have been offered and accepted support services to enable you to be rehabilitated or resettled in the community).
  • Are managed under active multi-agency management under the Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA).

If you would like to work out the number of bedrooms you require please see the LHA Direct website.

Which LHA rate applies to me?

The LHA that your Housing Benefit is based on will be the rate at the date you make your claim. Although this is not necessarily the amount you will receive as this is dependent on your income, savings and personal circumstances.

For further details please see Local Housing Allowance rates.

What if my rent is different to the LHA rate?

The LHA rate is the maximum amount you can get.

If the LHA rate is less than your rent then you will have to pay any shortfall to your landlord or try to negotiate a lower rent.

Will my LHA rate change?

Your claim will be reviewed annually on the 1 April each year when the new LHA Rates are set, unless you have a change in circumstances during the year.

Things that may change the LHA rate are:

  • People coming to live with you.
  • People moving out.
  • Children reaching the age that means they need their own room.

What if my rent changes?

We can review the LHA rate if there has been a change in your rent since the annual review. Please tell us straight away if your rent increases or decreases. We will let you know if your entitlement changes.

See Housing Benefit change in circumstances for more information about the changes you need to tell us about.

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