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 (LHA) rules affect the amount of housing benefit you get if you're renting privately.
The maximum you can get is the LHA rate that applies to your household.
Your LHA rate is based on:
- where you live in the UK
- whether you live in shared accommodation
- the number of bedrooms you're entitled to under the rules
When you won't get the full LHA rate
You won't get the full LHA rate in the following situations:
- your weekly rent is lower than your LHA rate
- you're affected by the benefit cap
- you live with certain adult occupiers who are expected to contribute to the rent
- you're working (unless you earn less than you'd get on JSA, ESA or income support)
You can apply for a discretionary housing payment if housing benefit doesn't cover your full rent.
When different rules apply
Your housing benefit is calculated in a different way if you:
- are a council or housing association tenant
- have a shared ownership tenancy
- have a regulated or protected tenancy
- live in a mobile home or houseboat
- have claimed housing benefit in your current home since before April 2008
Bedrooms allowed under LHA rules
The maximum number of bedrooms you can claim for is 4.
You count as needing a bedroom for each:
- adult couple
- member of a couple who can't share a room because of a disability
- child under 16 who can't share a room because of a disability
- single person over 16 - including lodgers, friends or relatives who live with you
- 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 lived with you before going away on duty still counts as needing a bedroom if they intend to return to live at home.
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 can usually only get the shared accommodation rate if you:
- rent a room in a shared house
- are single and under 35 with no dependent children (even if you don't share your home with others)
How housing benefit is paid under LHA rules
Your housing benefit can be paid every 2 or 4 weeks or monthly, depending on when your rent is due. Ask the council to pay it more or less frequently if you need them to.
It's paid in arrears. This means you're paid for the week or month just gone, rather than the coming week or month.
Private landlords usually expect to be paid in advance, so you should budget for this.
In most cases, housing benefit is paid directly to your bank account.
When it can be paid direct to your landlord
The council must pay your housing benefit direct to your landlord if:
- you have at least 8 weeks' rent arrears
- deductions are being made from your other benefits for rent arrears
The council can pay your housing benefit direct to your landlord if, for example:
- it will help you get or keep a tenancy
- you have a history of rent arrears
- you find it hard to budget
Last updated 26 Sep 2018 | © Shelter
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