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LHA general information

Local Housing Allowance is used to work out the maximum rate to be used in the calculation of Housing Benefit for some tenants who are living in private rented accommodation. It was introduced on 7 April 2008.

It is based on:

  • The area you live in
  • Who lives with you

It is not based on how much rent you pay.

Local Housing Allowance applies to most people making a new claim for Housing Benefit. A new claim for Housing Benefit may be made:

  • by someone claiming for the first time
  • by someone receiving benefit moving to a new address
  • by someone who has had a break in their entitlement to Housing Benefit

A break in entitlement will normally occur where there is a temporary change in circumstances which results in the loss of Housing Benefit, for example, an increase in earnings because of a temporary increase in hours.

Local Housing Allowance will not affect you if:

  • You pay rent to a registered social landlord
  • Your rent has been registered as a 'fair rent'
  • Your tenancy started before 1989
  • You live somewhere where you are provided with care, support, or supervision
  • You live in a caravan, mobile home, or houseboat
  • You have a tenancy where a large part of the rent covers board and attendance (such as hostel accommodation)

Why is the number of rooms I live in important?

Local Housing Allowance is based on the number of bedrooms you need, not on how much your rent is. The number of bedrooms you need will be based on the number of people you have living with you. However, a maximum of four bedrooms can be considered in your application, even if the size of your family would normally require you to need more than four bedrooms. You can use the online bedroom calculator (opens in new window) to help you work out how many rooms your household will need.

Why is the area I live in important?

The Local Housing Allowance is based on rent levels for the area in which a person lives. These areas are set by The Valuation Office Agency and are known as Broad Rental Market Areas. You can find out which area your property is in by going to the Local Housing Allowance-direct website. An independent Rent Officer decides what the Local Housing Allowance is for different sizes of property in each area. It will be based on the rents that most people pay in your area. Local Housing Allowance will pay the same amount wherever you live in your area. For the current Local Housing Allowance rates see "Room Rates for Local Housing Allowance".

Under 35 years of age

From 1 January 2012, single claimants under 35 years of age no longer have their Housing Benefit calculated using the Local Housing Allowance one bedroom self-contained rate. Instead, it is based on the lower one bedroom shared room rate.

This will not apply to you if:

  • You are entitled to Income Support or Job Seeker's Allowance and you get the severe disability premium in your appropriate amount
  • You receive the middle or higher rate of the care component of Disability Living Allowance, have no non-dependants living with you and no-one receives Carer's Allowance for looking after you
  • You are registered blind
  • You are aged between 25 years of age to 34 years of age and an ex-offender subject to Multi-Agency Protection Arrangements.  This exemption may only last for a fixed period and may not cover you until you reach 35 years of age
  • You are aged between 25 years of age and 34 years of age and have been living in homeless hostels for three months or more and have been supported to recover and resettle due to alcohol, substance abuse, or mental health problems.

How is my housing benefit calculated?

Once your Local Housing Allowance rate has been worked out, your maximum Housing Benefit is either this figure, or your weekly rent, depending on which is lower. Your benefit is then calculated in the normal way.

How will my housing benefit be paid?

If your Housing Benefit is subject to Local Housing Allowance, it is usually paid directly to you. It is up to you to pay your rent to your landlord. If you don't pay your rent you may be evicted from the property.

If you do not already have one, you may want to open a bank account. That way you will be able to pay your rent to your landlord by direct debit or standing order. You can get advice about opening a bank account from any bank or building society of your choice.

If you are worried about managing your money, ask us if we can help. In special cases we may be able to pay your rent to your landlord see local housing allowance safeguard guidelines

For more information see the GOV.UK web page on housing benefit