Local Housing Allowance (LHA) came into effect on 7 April 2008.
It does not affect you if you are:
- A tenant of a Registered Social Landlord (a Housing Association)
- Someone whose tenancy started before 15 January 1989 (that is, you have a regulated tenancy)
- A tenant of a caravan, houseboat or hostel
- A tenant where the Valuation Office Agency has decided that a substantial amount of your rent is for board and attendance
It will only affect you if you make a brand new Housing Benefit claim or if you have been getting Housing Benefit continuously from before 7 April 2008 and you move address or have a break of a week or more in your benefit claim.
Working out your Local Housing Allowance
To work out how much Housing Benefit you might get under Local Housing Allowance, you need to:
- Work out how many bedrooms you are entitled to and which Local Housing Allowance rate applies to you – this is shown below
- Check the Local Housing Allowance for the area you want to live in
- Find out if you can get the full amount of benefit. The amount of benefit you can get may be affected by: any money you have coming in; any savings you have; how much your rent is; anyone living with you; if you share paying the rent with anyone else.
Income and Capital
Your Housing Benefit will be assessed using what income and capital you have. This means that even though you may know your Local Housing Allowance rate, your Housing Benefit may still be reduced depending on how your income compares with your Applicable Amount (the amount the Government states a claimant and their family can afford to live on in order to meet basic living costs).
Any adult aged 18 or over (except certain students) living with you and your partner (if you have one), may affect the amount of Housing Benefit you can get. This is because we may expect that person to pay towards the rent. Therefore we may need to reduce the Housing Benefit we pay by making a non-dependant deduction, as with the old Housing Benefit rules.
How many bedrooms am I entitled to?
The number of people who live with you is used to work out how many bedrooms you are entitled to. We do not count other rooms such as a living room, kitchen or bathroom.
The number of bedrooms you are entitled to is then used to work out which Local Housing Allowance rate usually applies to you. You can use the following information as a guide to work out how many bedrooms you are entitled to.
You are entitled to one bedroom for:
- every adult couple (married or unmarried)
- any other adult aged 16 or over
- any two children of the same sex aged under 16
- any two children aged under 10
- any other child
However, there are cases where we may have to assess you on a ‘shared room’ rate of Local Housing Allowance. For some examples of this, please follow the link on this page for “Examples of LHA Rates".
Please note that Local Housing Allowance rates have been restricted to the four bed rate from April 2011 for new customers. Existing customers who were being assessed on the five bed rate before April 2011 may receive a period of protection before their Housing Benefit is restricted to the four bed rate.
You will then need to establish the Local Housing Allowance rate. Please refer to the attached link. They are also displayed in the reception areas of each of Shropshire Council’s local offices.
Please refer to the link on this page on Local Housing Allowance rates to work out the rate for you.
Payment of Housing Benefit for Local Housing Allowance
Under the Local Housing Allowance rules, you are unable to request that payment of Housing Benefit is made directly to your landlord. This is because tenants on Housing Benefit need to take greater responsibility for managing their affairs and paying their rent to their landlords (in the same way as other tenants do). We must therefore pay you direct. NB. Your landlord cannot change this by making direct payment a condition of your tenancy.
However, we must pay a landlord direct in situations where:
- a tenant is more than eight weeks in arrears with their rent
- a tenant is having deductions made from their Income Support or Jobseekers Allowance to pay for rent arrears
(We will ask for proof of rent arrears before we amend payment of Housing Benefit to the landlord).
The council operates a Safeguard Procedure which provides us with the discretion to pay Housing Benefit (under the LHA rules) to landlords in certain circumstances. Please refer to the safeguard procedure link on this page for more information.
Good practice and top tips
- If you do not have a bank account, open one. This will help us to pay Housing Benefit quicker, by BACS, directly into your bank account.
- Set up a Standing Order to pay the rent. This will help to ensure that you pay your rent and that you do not fall into arrears. It will stop you using your Housing Benefit money to pay for something else.
- Make sure that your landlord provides you with proof that you have been paying your rent (for example a rent book / rent receipts) and keep these. (If you pay your rent by standing order from your bank, this will help to provide proof that you are paying your rent if you are asked to provide this.)
- If there is a shortfall in the rent you are being charged and the Benefit you are entitled to, we may be able to pay you an award of Discretionary Housing Payments. For more information, please follow the relevant link on this page.
- Please contact the Benefits Service if you need help in respect of your benefit claim.
- Report any changes in your circumstances to the Benefits Service as soon as they occur, for example: a change in your income / capital or the income / capital of a member of your family, a change in your household, a change in address.
If you require more information on Local Housing Allowance, please contact the Benefits Service.