Benefits for under 35s in shared housing

Local housing allowance for private tenants

Local housing allowance (LHA) is used to work out your universal credit or housing benefit.

It's not a separate benefit but it affects how much help you get with rent.

Your LHA rate depends on:

  • your age

  • who you live with

  • rent levels in your area

  • other things like a care history or disability

Find out more about local housing allowance (LHA) rules.

What to do if your benefits don't cover the rent

Your LHA rate is the maximum amount you can get to help with rent.

You may not get the full rate. For example, if your actual rent is lower or if you're working.

  1. Pay any shortfall to avoid rent arrears

  2. Check if you could qualify for a higher LHA rate

  3. Get benefits advice if you think you're on the wrong LHA rate

  4. Apply for a discretionary housing payment

The shared accommodation rate

Most single private renters under 35 can only get the the shared accommodation rate of LHA.

This applies even if you don't share your home with others.

The shared accommodation rate is lower than other LHA rates and this can make it harder to rent a whole property.

But there are exceptions and some people qualify for a higher LHA rate instead.

Who qualifies for a higher LHA rate

From 31 May 2021 more people can qualify for a higher LHA rate.

The new rules help more care leavers and people who have lived in homeless hostels.

If you're entitled to a higher LHA rate, this figure is used to work out your benefit even if you're in shared housing. But you won't get more than your actual rent.

If you're under 35, you can qualify for a higher LHA rate in any of the situations below.

You live with a partner

You can qualify for the 1 bed self contained rate if you get universal credit.

You may only get the shared accommodation rate if you're claiming housing benefit in a shared house with other people.

You live with other household members

You're exempt from the shared accommodation rate if you live with the following people:

  • children under 18 including foster children

  • adult children or other adult household members

If you're a foster carer who has had a child placed with you in the last year, you're exempt from the shared accommodation rate even if you don't have a foster child at the moment.

Your LHA rate depends on the number of bedrooms you're entitled to under LHA rules.

You're a care leaver under 25

You can now qualify for the 1 bed self contained rate until you're 25.

Before 31 May 2021 you could only qualify for this rate if you were under 21.

Ask the DWP or the council to look at your benefit again if you're affected by this change.

You count as a care leaver if you were in care when you were 16 or 17.

If you're claiming housing benefit, you can also count as a care leaver if social services provided you with housing when you were 16 or 17.

You get a different LHA rate if children live with you.

You have lived in a hostel or refuge for at least 3 months

You can now qualify for the 1 bed self contained rate if you have spent at least 3 months living in a homeless hostel or refuge since you were 16.

Before 31 May 2021 you could only qualify if you were aged 25 to 34.

Ask the DWP or council to look at your benefit again if you're affected by this change.

You must have lived in hostels or refuges for at least 3 months. This does not have to be recently.

The 3 months does not have to be continuous. Stays in different hostels or refuges that add up to at least 3 months in total also count.

The hostels must have provided meals or shared kitchen facilities.

You must have received support and resettlement services while you lived there.

If you were placed in a hotel or B&B because you were homeless during the coronavirus pandemic this could also count as a hostel if you received the same type of care and support as you would in a hostel.

You get certain disability benefits

You qualify for the 1 bed self contained rate if you also get:

  • PIP – daily living component

  • DLA – middle or high rate care

  • armed forces independence payment

This doesn't apply if you're claiming housing benefit and someone else gets carers allowance or the carers element of universal credit because they're your full time carer.

You need overnight care

You qualify for the 2 bed rate if a paid or unpaid carer stays with you regularly to provide overnight care and you claim:

  • PIP – daily living component

  • DLA – middle or high rate care

There must be a bedroom available for your carer when they stay.

You're a former prisoner covered by MAPPA

You qualify for the 1 bed self contained rate if:

  • you're 25 or over

  • your release from prison is managed under multi agency public protection arrangements (MAPPA) - Level 2 or 3

You're over 35

Once you're 35 or over, your universal credit should be worked out using the 1 bed LHA rate even if you live in shared housing.

If you get housing benefit and live in shared housing, your benefit will still be worked out using the shared accommodation rate unless you move to a self contained property.


Last updated: 9 June 2021

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