Local Housing Allowance (LHA) is a means tested benefit paid to those who live in private rented accommodation and who are claiming housing benefit. The benefit is paid directly to the tenant’s bank account or building society, and does not have to be assessed by the local rent officer. LHA does not replace housing benefit, but instead uses a locally calculated flat rate based on two key criteria, who you live with and the area you live in (as opposed the amount of rent you pay). The amount of money awarded is reviewed each year and can also change if the amount of money the tenant receives changes and/or the number of people living in the property changes..
Who can claim?
Anyone making a new claim for Housing Benefit is likely to be placed on LHA as opposed to Housing Benefit. You are also likely to be placed on LHA if you have moved house and make a claim or you have had a temporary break in entitlement due to an increase in earnings.
There are some exclusions including,,,
- Local authority tenants
- Those who pay rent to social landlords
- If you pay what is classed as ‘fair rent’
- Your tenancy began pre-1989
- Your accommodation provides care or supervision
- You live in a non-permanent building, e.g a caravan, houseboats
- Your rent covers board and other living costs (such as in a hostel)
How much will I get?
LHA is worked out on the number of bedrooms you need, NOT the amount of rent you pay. The amount of rooms you need is based upon how many people live with you, although you cannot submit a claim for more than four bedrooms, even if you consider that your family requires a number of bedrooms over this amount.
The average rent level in your local area will help determine the amount of local housing allowance you can receive. The area themselves are calculated by The Valuation Office Agency and are defined as Broad Rental Market Areas. You can work out your Local Housing Allowance Rate by visiting the government’s own LHA website which has a handy calculator. There are different rates paid according to the size of the property in each area. The amount you will receive will be the same as the local LHA rate, irrespective of what part of a local area you live in. For example, if you live in a more sought after part of an area you may be paying a rent above what the local LHA rate is.
How are local LHA rates calculated?
Your LHA award amount will vary by local area, for example, areas of higher average rental costs will have higher award amount compared places where rental values are lower.
- Valuations Office – for information on LHA, fair rents and council tax
- Citizens Advice Bureau – can help with a range of issues including financial difficulties
- Shelter – UK Charity dedicated to helping those with housing, debt or welfare difficulties
Below are some of the most frequently asked questions surrounding LHA.