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If you are renting a property or room from a private landlord, the Local Housing Allowance is used to work out how much Housing Benefit you get.
The amount of Housing Benefit you get will depend on where you live and who lives with you.
Local Housing Allowance rates are set for different types of accommodation in each area. The rates range from a single room in a shared house, up to properties with four bedrooms.
If you have been getting Housing Benefit since before 7 April 2008, the Local Housing Allowance will only apply to you if you:
The LHA is set each month by the rent service and gives allowances for households who need up to 4 rooms. Most tenants receive the LHA based on the number of rooms their household needs not the number of rooms in the property they rent or the rent that they are charged.
You are allowed one bedroom for:
This is capped at a maximum of 4 bedrooms however.
If you are single and over 35 or a couple with no children you will get the 1 bedroom LHA but you must rent a property with at least two rooms or less than two rooms if it is self contained. This means that the accommodation has its own bathroom/toilet and kitchen. If the property has less than two rooms and is not self contained you will be entitled to the shared room LHA only.
If you are single and under 35 you get the shared room LHA no matter what size of property you rent.
Joint tenants are people who are not a couple but share a property and are named on the tenancy agreement. Joint tenants will get the LHA for their own household not including the family of the other joint tenants.
The major difference between LHA and the old Housing Benefits scheme is that in most cases LHA must be paid directly to the tenant. There are exceptions to this which are discussed in the section entitled safeguards below.
Landlords will need to make arrangements with their tenant to collect the rent. Most people find that the best way is for the tenant to allow us to pay their local housing allowance direct into their bank or building society account. They can then set up a standing order to pay their landlord directly.
You should be able to open an account either at a bank or building society to get your local housing allowance. If you are having difficulty opening an account please let us know as we may be able to help.
Some people may have difficulty getting the local housing allowance and paying their rent. Payments of local housing allowance can be made direct to a landlord if:
Payments to customers will be made fortnightly in arrears.
Payments to landlords will be made every four weeks in arrears.
The first payment of Local Housing Allowance may be made via cheque in the landlord's name, sent to the customer's address.
If someone else looks after your money for you, or there is a power of attorney, payments can be made to the person who looks after your money or the person with the power of attorney.
If you feel that you, or your tenant may benefit from payments being made directly to their landlord then you can complete the form entitled "landlord payments form”, available from the documents section on this page, and return it to the benefits department.
If you require help with something in this section, please contact us.