What is local housing allowance (LHA)?

Local housing allowance (LHA) is used to work out how much housing benefit you can get if you rent your home from a private landlord.  

Local housing allowance

Local housing allowance is a way of working out how much housing benefit you can get to help pay the rent if you have a private landlord.

If you rent from a council or housing association or have a 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 can claim if you are working or if you claim other benefits.

You can't get LHA if you have savings of £16,000 or more unless you are getting pension credit (guarantee credit part).

You should report any changes in circumstances to the council as your award may be reassessed.

What LHA pays for

Local housing allowance helps with rent and some service charges.

How LHA is calculated

The council works out your maximum LHA rate as a starting point. This is based on:

  • where you live in the UK
  • whether you live in shared accommodation
  • the number of bedrooms you are entitled to under the rules

Find the maximum LHA rates in your area on Directgov's LHA rate search

You usually get the maximum LHA rate for your household if you also get any of the following benefits: 

  • income-related employment and support allowance (ESA)
  • income-based jobseeker's allowance (JSA)
  • income support
  • pension credit guarantee

You won't receive the maximum LHA rate if:

  • your actual weekly rent is lower than the applicable LHA rate
  • you have non-dependants living with you who are expected to contribute to the rent
  • the benefit cap applies

Bedrooms allowed when calculating LHA

The maximum number of bedrooms you are allowed under the LHA rules is 4.

You are assessed as needing a bedroom for each:

  • adult couple
  • member of a couple who can't share a bedroom because of a disability
  • single person aged 16 or over (including lodgers, friends or relatives)
  • disabled child under 16 who can't share a room because of their disability
  • 2 children of the same sex under 16
  • 2 children of either sex under 10
  • any other child

A child in the armed forces who is away on duty and who lived with you before they went away still counts as needing a bedroom if they intend to return. 

An extra bedroom is allowed if you need one for a:

  • foster child or children
  • non-resident carer (or team of carers) who regularly stays overnight to provide care to you or another household member because of a disability

You usually only get the LHA shared accommodation rate if you:

  • are a single person under the age of 35 without children 
  • live in shared accommodation

How often LHA is paid

Payment of housing benefit is usually made every two or four weeks or monthly.

Housing benefit is paid in arrears. Each payment covers a past rental period.

Private landlords usually expect rent to be paid in advance, so you should budget for this.

You can apply for a discretionary housing payment from your council if housing benefit does not cover your full rent. 

When LHA can be paid direct to a landlord

LHA is usually paid directly to you. You then pay your rent to your landlord.  

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 other benefits for rent arrears

In some cases, the council can choose to pay your LHA direct to your landlord. They could do this if, for example, you:

  • have a history of not paying the rent
  • struggle to pay the rent because of a medical condition or learning disability
  • could lose your tenancy if they don't

Last updated 18 Apr 2017 | © Shelter

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