What is local housing allowance?

Local housing allowance (LHA) is used to work out Housing Benefit for tenants who rent from a private landlord.

LHA rates are set by the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) at the start of each financial year. The rate is based on the number of bedrooms you and your household need and the rent charged for similar-sized properties in the area.

The LHA rate is the maximum amount of Housing Benefit that can be paid for a property but it may be reduced, depending on your income, savings and other circumstances.

Who does LHA affect?

Your Housing Benefit will be based on the LHA rules if you are:

  • a private tenant making a new claim for housing benefit

  • an existing tenant who changes address to a new private tenancy.

The LHA rules do not apply to:

  • housing association tenants

  • anyone living in a caravan, mobile home or houseboat

  • anyone whose rent includes a large amount towards the cost of food and attendance (attendance is a personal service provided to the tenant by the landlord, such as cleaning of the property, a personal carer/cook, rubbish disposal etc.).

What rates will be used?

The LHA rates for the period 1 April 2016 - 31 March 2017 show the maximum benefit you can claim.

The amount you receive will depend on your specific circumstances. We will take into account your income and savings and if there are any other adults living in the property.

How many bedrooms is my household allowed?

One bedroom is allowed for each of the following:

  • an adult couple

  • any other adult (aged 16 or over)

  • two children of the same sex aged 10 - 15

  • two children of either sex aged under 10

  • any other children

  • a carer or team of carers who do not live with you but provide you or your partner with overnight care.

The calculation allows up to four bedrooms per household, no matter how big your family. You can use the LHA bedroom calculator to work out how many bedrooms you are allowed.

Single people aged 16-34

If you are a single person aged 16 to 34 we will use the one room shared accommodation rate no matter what type or size of property you rent.

However, you will qualify for the one bedroom rate if:

  • you receive the severe disability premium in your benefit assessment or

  • you are a care leaver (following Social Services care) and are aged under 22 or

  • you are aged 25 to 34 and have spent three months in a hostel for the rehabilitation or resettlement of homeless people before moving into your self-contained accommodation or

  • you are aged 25 to 34 and an ex-offender who is being managed under a Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangement.

Is payment made to me or my landlord?

Housing Benefit is normally paid to you, the tenant, every four weeks in arrears. You are responsible for paying the full rent to your landlord.

Payment can only be made directly to your landlord if:

  • you are more than eight weeks in arrears with your rent

  • you are unlikely to pay your rent

  • you have difficult managing your own affairs

  • it will help you get or keep a tenancy.

We may need to contact you or someone acting on your behalf before we make payments directly to your landlord.

You can find out more in our Safeguard and Vulnerability Policy.

Discretionary housing payment scheme

The government has given us a limited amount of money to help people who are struggling with housing costs. If the amount of housing benefit you get does not cover your rent, you may be able to claim a Discretionary Housing Payment in certain circumstances.

Discretionary Housing Payments are not benefit payments - they are separate payments which may be paid if we believe you need extra financial support.

Discretionary Housing Payment Application Form

More information on Discretionary Housing Payments

Discretionary Housing Payment Policy