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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

You will 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

If you are working more than 16 hours per week (or 24 hours per week if you are part of a couple) then you won't receive the maximum LHA rate but will still receive some LHA if your income is low enough.

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

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

An extra bedroom can be allowed if you:

  • have a foster child or children
  • have a severely disabled child who needs their own room
  • or your partner are disabled and a carer provides regular overnight care
  • have a child who is away on duty with the armed forces and intends to return home

If you are a single person under the age of 35 without children or you live in shared accommodation, you are usually only entitled to LHA at the shared accommodation rate.

Check your bedroom entitlement on Directgov's LHA bedroom calculator

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.

When LHA can be paid direct to landlords

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 25 Apr 2016 | © Shelter

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