Local Housing Allowance (LHA)
If you are a private tenant on a low income who rents a room or a home from a private landlord, you may be entitled to Local Housing Allowance.
Payment rates for LHA
The following table shows the current Local Housing Allowance rates for Basildon Borough (as from 1st April 2012).
|Number of bedrooms||Category||Weekly amount|
|Shared Accommodation Rate||A||£66.96|
What is Local Housing Allowance?
Local Housing Allowance (LHA) was introduced on 7 April 2008. It has changed the way Housing Benefit is worked out for most tenants in privately rented accommodation.
With LHA, your Housing Benefit is not based on the property you live in, but is based on who lives with you and which area of the country you live in. Under LHA you:
• will be entitled to the same amount of Housing Benefit as people in the same circumstances and in the same area as you,
• can find out more quickly how much Housing Benefit you may be entitled to before you rent a property,
• will usually get your benefit paid to you so it is your responsibility to pay your rent to your landlord.
The Valuation Office Agency decides what the level of LHA will be. They provide a new set of rates every April, which are updated on our website. You can also find out more about LHA rates through the GOV UK website.
Does the Local Housing Allowance scheme apply to all claims for Housing Benefit?
LHA does not apply if:
• the accommodation is rented from the council,
• the accommodation is rented from a housing association or charity,
• the tenancy includes the provision of care, support or supervision provided by a social landlord, charity or voluntary organisation,
• the tenancy includes substantial board and attendance,
• the accommodation is a caravan, mobile home or houseboat,
• you have been claiming Housing Benefit without a break as a private tenant in the same property since before 7 April 2008.
How is my rate of Local Housing Allowance worked out?
The number of bedrooms you require is used to work out how much Local Housing Allowance you may be entitled to. The LHA rate is not based on the actual number of bedrooms in the property.
We look at the number of people who live with you to work out what category of dwelling is allowed. We do not count other rooms, such as living rooms, a kitchen or bathroom. The maximum LHA bedroom allowance is restricted to 4 bedrooms, even where the number of people who live with you exceeds this requirement.
You can use the following information as a guide to work out how what rate of Local Housing Allowance applies to you. You are allowed one bedroom (up to a maximum of 4) for:
• every adult couple (married or unmarried),
• any other adult aged 16 or over,
• up to two children under age 10 of either sex,
• up to two children of the same sex aged under 16.
What else might affect my Local Housing Allowance?
You may not get the standard rate of Local Housing Allowance if you share some or all of the facilities in a property. Shared facilities could be a living room, kitchen or bathroom. The shared accommodation rate of LHA may apply where:
• You are under 35 years of age and live alone, unless you would qualify for a severe disability premium.
• You are under 35 years of age and live alone, unless you were previously in care on your 16th birthday and are aged under 22,
• You have a bedroom of your own but share all or some of the facilities, such as a kitchen, bathroom etc. This also applies if you live in shared accommodation with your partner and do not have children
Further exemptions from the shared accommodation rate of LHA may apply if you are between the ages of 25 and 34 and have spent time in a hostel prior to your claim, or are subject to active multi-agency management under the Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA). For further details, please speak to the benefits section.
What happens if my rent is more or less than the Local Housing Allowance rate that applies to me?
If you are making/ made a new claim for Housing Benefit after 1st April 2011, the amount of LHA paid to you will be the lesser of:
• Your contractual rent
• The LHA rate that applies to you based on your circumstances
For example, if your rent is £125 per week and your LHA rate is £150 per week, we will pay you a maximum of £125 per week depending on your circumstances. If however your rent was £150 per week and your LHA rate was £125, you would only get a maximum of £125 per week in benefit.
If you are an existing Housing Benefit claimant within the Borough, and have been in receipt of benefit continuously since before 1st April 2011, some transitional arrangements may exist which affect the amount of LHA paid to you. For further details, please speak to the benefit section.
It is your responsibility to make up any shortfall in your rent that is not covered by your LHA payments. If you are claiming benefit and are currently in arrears with your rent, or are concerned that you may fall into arrears, please speak to the benefit section as soon as possible.
How is Housing Benefit paid?
Through the Local Housing Allowance scheme, Housing Benefit will be paid directly to you. The is intended to encourage people claiming Housing benefit to manage their finances, take responsibility for budgeting and to pay their own rent.
However, we understand that some people may struggle with this responsibility and in certain circumstances we can pay your Housing Benefit to your landlord.
You can find out more on about payments here; How your benefit will be paid
If you are a landlord, it is important you contact us to report rent arrears for any tenants who are claiming Housing Benefit as soon as possible.