If you are are renting a property or room from a private landlord and you are on a low income, you may be able to claim and receive Local Housing Allowance (LHA).
What is Local Housing Allowance?
Local Housing Allowance is a new way of working out Housing Benefit for people who rent accommodation from a private landlord. It was introduced in April 2008. It applies to new claims for benefit and for customers already on Housing Benefit who change address or move into privately rented accommodation.
If you live in council accommodation or other social housing, such as a housing association, LHA will not affect you unless you move into accommodation rented from a private landlord.
How does Local Housing Allowance work?
The amount of LHA is based on the area that the customer rents in, the number of occupiers in the property and the size of the household. LHA is a fairer way of calculating Housing Benefit, as it ensures that tenants with similar circumstances and living in the same area receive the same amount help with their rent.
How do these changes affect those already on Housing Benefit?
If you are already on Housing Benefit, you will not be affected unless you change address and move into accommodation rented from a private landlord. You would then change over to LHA.
How is Local Housing Allowance calculated?
The Rent Service calculate LHA rates for each individual area or ‘Broad Market Rental Areas’, as they are known. The rates vary for each area and also depend on the number of bedrooms in the property. The rates are reviewed monthly.
To work out the maximum LHA rates you need to know:
1) Which bedroom rate you qualify for.
2) The (Broad Market Rental) Area that you will be renting in.
Which bedroom rate do I qualify for?
This is not the number of bedrooms in the property but the number of bedrooms your household actually needs. Follow the link to find out how many bedrooms you qualify for:
Local Housing Allowance Bedroom Calculator .
Which Broad Market Rental Area am I going to rent in?
You can find out which Broad Market Rental Area you are renting in by using the Post Code search facility on the attached link. Also, by selecting the number of bedrooms you qualify for, you can view the maximum LHA rate that applies.
Find Local Housing Allowance rates by Post Code .
How much will I actually get?
The LHA rates are the maximum benefit you can receive, no matter how much the rent actually is. Remember that LHA is a means tested benefit and that you may get less than the maximum allowance. This will depend on the money you have coming in and any savings you have.
For an estimate of your entitlement you can use our benefits calculator or you can contact us. (Please note, all our forms are compatible with Internet Explorer and Safari, however you may experience issues when using other browsers).
What if my rent is more or less than my allowance?
If the rent you negotiate with your landlord is lower than the allowance you receive, you will be able to keep the difference up to a maximum of £15 per week. This will not normally be taken into account when deciding other benefits.
Please note the following changes from 5 th April 2010:
- Customers who make new claims or change address on or after 5 April 2010 will not be entitled to keep any excess Housing Benefit over their rent.
- Customers already receiving an excess of up to £15 per week will lose this on the anniversary of their claim following 5 th April 2010.
If the rent is more than the allowance you receive, you will have to pay the difference or look for alternative accommodation.
How to claim?
You can claim LHA as soon as you have a rent agreement with your landlord,if you delay you could lose benefit. You will need to complete our claim form for Housing and Council Tax Benefit. More information is available on how to claim including how to obtain a claim form.
How you are paid LHA?
The payment will normally be made to you, straight to your bank or building society account. Payment is not normally made to your landlord.
If you do not already have a bank or building society account, you will need to open one. That way you can arrange to pay the rent to your landlord automatically, using a standing order. It is up to you to pay the rent to your landlord. If you don't pay rent, you may be taken to court and evicted from the property.
If you are worried about managing your money, ask us if we can help you. In some cases, we may be able to pay your benefit to your landlord. Our Safeguard Policy gives more information on this.
Follow these links to download an Application to pay Landlord and guidance notes
Where are the rates published?
The current LHA rates for the Broad Market Rental Areas in Flintshire are under useful documents
Changes in circumstances.
If you are getting Housing Benefit or Local Housing Allowance and you move to a new address or other circumstances change, you should tell us straightaway. You may need to make a new claim for Housing Benefit or Local Housing Allowance.
You can use this link to obtain more information on reporting a change in circumstances including a downloadable form.
You can follow this link to the ‘LHA Direct’ website or you can contact us for more information.