Local housing allowance (LHA) is housing benefit for people who rent a home from a private landlord.
Local housing allowance
Local housing allowance is housing benefit that helps pay the rent if you rent from a private landlord. It's a benefit administered by your local council.
If you rent from a council or housing association or have a part-rent part-buy shared ownership home, different rules are used to calculate your housing benefit.
LHA has many of the same rules as housing benefit, but there are some extra rules that limit the amount of help you can get for a private rented home.
LHA is usually paid direct to you rather than to your landlord.
Who can claim LHA
You can claim local housing allowance if you are a private tenant who needs help with paying the rent. You may be entitled to this housing benefit if you are working or if you claim benefits.
You can't get LHA if you have savings of £16,000 or more unless you are a pensioner and receive the guarantee credit part of pension credit.
LHA claims are routinely reassessed every 12 months. Your claim may be reassessed at any time if your circumstances change.
What LHA pays for
LHA helps with rent and some service charges.
How LHA is calculated
The amount of LHA you can get depends on your income and savings and if any non-dependants live with you, for example adult children.
The amount of LHA you receive also depends on the maximum rent allowed for properties in your area and the number of rooms the council decides you need.
The benefit cap can affect your total benefit entitlement.
You can rent a home of any size or price, but your housing benefit claim is limited. You have to make up any rent shortfall.
Maximum LHA amounts
There are limits on the amount of LHA. In 2014 the maximum weekly LHA rate limits were:
- £258.06 for 1 room in shared accommodation
- £258.06 for 1 bedroom accommodation
- £299.34 for 2 bedroom accommodation
- £350.95 for 3 bedroom accommodation
- £412.89 for 4 bedroom accommodation
The amount of LHA you are eligible for depends on where you live. Local limits are based on the cheapest 30% of properties in an area.
Rooms allowed when calculating LHA
You are assessed as needing a bedroom for the following people in your home:
- an adult couple
- another person aged 16 or over
- any two children of the same sex up to the age of 16
- any two children regardless of sex under the age of 10
- any other child
Foster children are not included in the assessment.
If you or your partner are disabled and need regular overnight care, you can claim LHA for an extra bedroom for an overnight carer.
If you're aged under 35
You are usually only entitled to LHA at the reduced shared accommodation rate if you are under age 35 or in shared accommodation.
Read Shelter's factsheet on housing benefit for people under 35 for more information.
How often is housing benefit paid?
Payment of housing benefit depends on how often you pay rent.
Housing benefit is not paid in advance. Each payment covers a past period.
Private landlords usually expect rent to be paid in advance, so you need to budget for this.
When LHA can be paid direct to landlords
Your council must make your LHA payments direct to your landlord if:
- you have rent arrears of eight weeks or more
- deductions are being made from your benefits for rent arrears
In some cases, the council can choose to pay your LHA direct to your landlord. They could do this if you have failed to pay the rent in the past or you have problems paying your rent because of a medical condition.
The council can pay LHA direct to your landlord if the rent has been reduced to an affordable level to help you keep the tenancy.
If you have support needs, the council can pay LHA to your landlord to encourage them to keep you as a tenant. The council will consult you and people supporting you before deciding to pay LHA direct to your landlord. This may include your doctor, support worker, probation officer and others who know about your situation.