Local housing allowance
This is a rent allowance for private tenants on housing benefit. It is a way of calculating housing benefit for private tenants, making it more simple and fair and giving you personal responsibility for paying your rent.
We do not have to refer rents to the rent officer. Local housing allowance (LHA) is paid into your bank account, not to your landlord or agent, unless we decide that a claimant is vulnerable. If you do not have a bank account, you will need to open one.
The rent service will give us the LHA figures, which are standard amounts set according to:
- the number of people living in your home
- the number of bedrooms you occupy
- the rents charged for similar properties in your area.
You can visit the rent services website to calculate how many bedrooms you would be entitled to under the LHA size rules or find out the LHA rates for your postcode for each category of property.
Under LHA a tenant cannot simply request that payment is made to a landlord to cover their rent. Find out more about when payments may be made to the landlord rather than the tenant in the Local housing allowance policy and procedure
Frequently asked questions
Who will get LHA?
You will only get LHA if:
- you rent from a private landlord, and
- you have a low income or are getting certain welfare benefits.
Which landlords are affected by LHA?
LHA affects any landlord who enters into a deregulated private tenancy agreement with a person awarded housing benefit. A deregulated tenancy is one that started after January 1989.
Who is not affected by LHA?
LHA rules will not apply to:
- local authority tenants
- tenants of registered social landlords (housing associations)
- tenants who have a registered or 'fair rent'
- tenancies which began before January 1989
- protected cases such as supported housing provided by social landlords, charities or voluntary organisations, who also provide care, support or supervision
- tenancies in caravans, houseboats or hostels
- tenants who have substantial board included in their rent.
How much LHA will I get?
You will get a LHA award based on a standard LHA amount for the number of rooms you are allowed. These amounts are set by the rent service.
Other factors may affect how much LHA you are awarded and you will not necessarily receive the maximum LHA amount - for example:
- who lives with you and their circumstances
- what money you have coming in
- what savings you have
could all affect the amount you qualify for.
What if my LHA award is higher than my rent?
You will receive LHA up to the value of your rent.
What if the LHA doesn't cover my full rent?
You will have to make up the shortfall between your LHA award and your full rent. If you are experiencing difficulties in paying the difference, you can make application for discretionary housing payment. It is awarded in exceptional circumstances and having a shortfall in your rent does not mean you will be automatically entitled. Discretionary housing payments are paid from a fixed annual fund and not awarded to everyone who applies.
Where can I go for more information?
- GOV.UK provides information on public service in one place including up to date information on housing benefit changes
- Valuation Office Agency holds information on local housing allowance, fair rents and council tax
- Citizens advice service provides a wide range of advice
- Shelter offers confidential housing, welfare benefits and debt advice through a network of advice services.
The free phone housing advice help line on 0808 800 4444 Monday to Friday (8am - 8pm), Saturday and Sunday (8am - 5pm)
- If you have a query about LHA that is not answered by the FAQs, please contact us.