Local Housing Allowance

Local Housing Allowance applies to most people in privately rented accommodation who make a new claim for Housing Benefit on or after 7th April 2008, if you are already receiving Housing Benefit on this date these new rules will not apply to you.

However, if you move address or stop claiming Housing Benefit for at least one week, we will work out your new claim under the LHA rules.

Every property in the country will be included in a specific Broad Rental Market Area (BRMA), which shows the weekly Local Housing Allowance rates for each area. You can find out which BRMA applies to you.

The Rent Service provides each authority with a set of LHA figures which are to be used, these are weekly figures and are dependant on the number of bedrooms your family needs, rather than the number of bedrooms you actually have. LHA uses size criteria for working out the amount of LHA that can be paid.

One room is allowed as a bedroom for each of the following occupiers, up to a maximum of 4, with each occupier coming only within the first category which applies to him or her:

  • A couple
  • A single person aged 16 or more
  • Two children of the same sex under the age of 16
  • Two children of the same or opposite sex under the age of 10
  • Any other child
  • Certain overnight carers
  • Foster children
  • Certain adult children who serve in the armed forces who continue to live with parents

Local Housing Allowance will be paid to the tenant into a bank account, if you do not have a bank account you will need to open a new account. There are a few occasions where LHA can be paid to a landlord, these include:

  • If you are eight or more weeks behind with your rent
  • If we think that you will have difficulty paying your rent
  • If we think that you will not pay your rent

We can also consider paying your landlord if you think that you will have difficulty with these arrangements.

You will need to contact us to discuss this, or you can download an application form for Direct Payments of Housing Benefit to your Landlord. You will have to provide supporting evidence.

Further details about Local Housing Allowance can be found on the Directgov website, or DWP website, alternatively you can get further information from any of our contact centres.

Exemptions from the Scheme

Some properties are exempt from LHA these are:

  • Tenancies with Registered Social Landlords (housing associations)
  • Tenancies that began before 15th January 1989
  • Supported Housing
  • Caravans, houseboats and hostels
  • If the rent officer decides that a substantial part of your rent is for meals that are cooked for you

Shared Accommodation Rates

You can find out your local shared accommodation rate using the websites below. You can also compare the shared accommodation rate with the one bedroom rate:

England: Directgov Local Housing Allowance Rates

Scotland: Local Housing Allowance Rates

What Should I Do Now?

You can get more information at Directgov. Directgov provides information on public services in one place including up to date information on the Housing Benefit changes.

Speak to your local authority Housing Benefit / Housing Service as soon as possible. They can help you to find out exactly how these changes will affect you and talk to you about what your options may be if you are looking for accommodation.

The Valuation Office Agency (VOA) is an executive agency of HM Revenue & Customs and holds information on Local Housing Allowance, fair rents and Council Tax. 

Citizens Advice provide a wide range of advice.

From April 2011 the Government introduced absolute caps so that Local Housing Allowance weekly rates in any area cannot exceed:

  • £250 for a one bedroom property
  • £290 for a two bedroom property
  • £340 for a three bedroom property
  • £400 for a four bedroom property

The caps are most likely to affect people who are renting properties in central London boroughs. If your weekly rent is more than the cap for the Local Housing Allowance rate that applies to you, your Housing Benefit will be reduced.

If you are concerned that you may not be able to afford to remain in your home, you can speak to the Housing Options Team at Festival Housing, Festival House, Grovewood Road, Enigma Business Park,Malvern, Worcs WR14 1GD.

Alternatively, you can call the Housing Options Team for advice on 01684 579579. To make the most of the assistance the Housing Options Team is able to offer, it is important to seek advice as early as possible.