Local housing allowance - FAQ

LHA FAQ

What is the Local Housing Allowance ?

Local Housing Allowance (LHA) is a way of working out Housing Benefit for people who live in privately rented accommodation.

LHA is a flat rate allowance based on the size of the household (not the size of the property) and the area in which a person lives. This avoids the need for the Rent Service to examine every property and decide on the level of rent that is eligible for Housing Benefit in each case.

Payment of benefit under the LHA rules will normally be to the tenant, who will then pay the landlord.

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Who is affected by the Local Housing Allowance?

All new claims made on or after 7 April 2008 except for the cases listed below:

  • Registered Social Landlord (RSL) tenancies
  • Protected cases such as supported housing provided by certain local authorities, registered social landlords, charities and voluntary organisations
  • Tenancies that are excluded from current rent restrictions such as tenancies entered into prior to 15 January 1989
  • Exceptional cases such as caravans, houseboats, tents, mobile homes and hostels
  • Cases where the Rent Service judges that a substantial part of the rent is attributable to board and lodge, such as hotel accommodation

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Claimants under 35

Most single claimants who are under 35 year of age will be entitled to the standard rate for a room in shared accommodation where the tenant has a room or bedsit of their own with shared use of kitchen, bathroom, toilet and living room. This is known as the Shared Local Housing Allowance.

There are exceptions to this rule (including people who get the Severe Disability Premium).

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Single claimants aged over 35 or couples with no dependant children

Single claimants aged over 35 years of age or couples with no dependant children will be entitled to the rate of a one room property.

However, if the claimant chooses to live in a property where all or some of the facilities are shared (for example, kitchen, bathroom, living room, and so on) they will only be entitled to the Shared Local Housing Allowance.

The one room rate will only apply to any single person over the age of 35 years and couples without children so long as the claimant or partner has exclusive use of:

  • two or more rooms or
  • one room, a kitchen or facilities for cooking, bathroom or toilet

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What is the length of Local Housing Allowance Awards?

A Local Housing Allowance award usually applies for a year unless a relevant change in circumstance occurs.

There are three circumstances in which a Local Housing Allowance (LHA) may be updated within the year:

  1. a change in the number of occupiers
  2. a change of address within the period of the LHA
  3. if there is a death in the household

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How will payments of Local Housing Allowance be made?

The payments will normally be paid to the customer direct into their bank or building society account rather than the landlord. If you want to know about opening a bank account see Local Housing Allowance Basic Bank Account.   Local Housing Allowance cannot be paid into Post Office Account.

Safeguards will be put in place to protect the vulnerable.

Factors to be considered are:

  • if the customer has difficulty managing their affairs
  • if it is improbable that the customer would pay their rent.

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Will I have any appeal rights?

There is no right of appeal or redetermination about the levels of Local Housing Allowance (LHA), or Broad Market Rental Areas (BMRA).

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How are Local Housing Allowance payments worked out?

Each local authority will be divided into Broad Rental Market Areas (BRMA).

The Rent Service will set individual Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates for up to 5 rooms in each of the BRMA areas. Walsall Council will have 2 BRMAs depending on what area the customer resides in.

These figures will be published by the local authority so that landlords and prospective LHA customers can find out the amount of rent that the LHA will cover.  See the Local Housing Allowance Rates for Walsall.

If a customer finds a property that they like with a rent that exceeds their LHA they will need, as they do now, to make up the difference themselves. But if a customer finds somewhere with a rent below their allowance, they will be able to keep the difference up to a maximum of £15 a week.

The amount of LHA is dependant on the following factors:

  • the number of rooms the customers needs
  • the area that he or she lives in
  • their income and savings
  • whether someone lives with them who is not a dependant

The number of rooms that the tenant qualifies for (the size criteria) are one bedroom for every:

  • adult couple (including civil partners)
  • adult aged 16 or over
  • any two children under age 10
  • any two children of the same sex aged 10 to 15
  • any other child

Joint tenants receive a proportion of the rate payable for a property of the size applicable to all the tenants together.

If a person finds a property they like with a rent that exceeds their appropriate LHA rate then they will need to make up the difference themselves to their landlord. The amount of LHA a person actually qualifies for is affected by their income and savings and whether someone lives with them who is not a dependant. See the Directgov information on LHA link on the LHA page.

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