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Local Housing Allowance (LHA)

Local Housing Allowance was introduced in 2008 for most private tenants (it does not affect housing association tenants). The two changes were:

  • A new way of deciding the amount of rent that is used in the Housing Benefit assessment
  • Usually, Housing Benefit payments will be sent to the customer and not the landlord

Deciding the amount of rent

Once the amount of rent that will be used in the Housing Benefit assessment has been decided, other factors (such as your income and capital, and other people living in the household) will still be taken into account when calculating Housing Benefit entitlement. If you would like an estimate of the amount of Housing Benefit that you may be entitled to, you should follow these steps:

  1. to work out how many bedrooms you are entitled to please read the size criteria
  2. to see what the current LHA rate is please look at the current rates
  3. to be given a estimated calculation please use the online Benefit Calculator

Payments

If you don't have a bank account to pay Housing Benefit into, this will not usually be a reason for LHA payments to be sent to your landlord.

LHA rules are applied to:

  • new claims
  • existing claims following a change of address
  • new claims immediately following the award of a four-week Extended Payment
  • new claims following a break in benefit entitlement of at least one week

Most existing continuous claims from private tenants since 2008 will not be subject to the LHA rules (i.e. individual claims will continue to be referred to The Rent Service for a rental valuation and customers will be able to request that payments are sent to their landlord).

LHA is based on a flat rate allowance determined by the Valuation Office Agency that reflects the size of the customer's household. This amount is not directly related to the rent that is charged, so the Housing Benefit award may be lower than the amount of rent that you must pay your landlord.

The LHA rate that is used in the Housing Benefit calculation will last until the start of the following April, when the new LHA rate will be used in the calculation.

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