If you are a private tenant, renting property or a room from a private landlord and you are on a low income, you may be able to claim and receive Local Housing Allowance (LHA).
How do I claim?
You must contact us for an application form or download one on the 'Benefits' page. You can visit us in person or telephone us for advice. Complete your application form and return it with all the relevant original documents as soon as possible. The claim form tells you exactly what you need to send us. You may also claim as part of another claim for a separate government benefit, allowance or Pension Credit.
LHA is a way of calculating Housing Benefit. The calculation is based on the area in which you live and the number of bedrooms your personal circumstances require. It ensures that tenants in similar circumstances, residing in the same area and receiving the same amount of financial support and receive a consistent amount towards their housing costs.
As the LHA is based on your housing needs (rather than your actual housing costs), you can decide if you want to rent a property where the rent is above or below your LHA rate (128kb). Where the rent is more than your LHA rate you would be required to pay the difference between your assessed LHA rate and your actual rental liability.
LHA applies to:
- Claimants who claimed for the first time after the 7th April 2008;
- Claimants who have changed address after the 7th April 2008; (Please note that this also includes people who have changed rooms within the same property) Claimants who are reclaiming after a gap in their claim of at least one week;
- LHA does not apply to:
- Existing Housing Benefit claimants (who do not fall under any of the above);
- Tenants of Housing Associations or other Social/Charitable Landlords;
- Council Tenants;
- Tenants who live in Hostels (NACRO)/Houseboats/Mobile Homes or Caravans;
- Tenants whose tenancy began before 1989;
- Tenants whose rent includes a substantial element of Board/Lodging;
- Tenants in shared ownerships;
- Any letting that is 'exempt' accommodation; (where the care, support or supervision provided by the Landlord and is on a more than 'minimal' basis)
- All 'non-LHA' tenants will continue to be assessed under the 'pre LHA' Housing Benefit scheme.
The LHA rates are decided by the Rent Officer. This was also the case with the 'pre April 2008' Rent Officer Decisions. The Rent Officer will set the rates annually each April, taking into account the Consumer Price Index (CPI) when determining the forthcoming years rates. The figures are then passed through to us to advertise to our customers and to use in the assessment of claims.
The amount of LHA you receive is determined by: The area you live in, this is known as the Broad Marker Rental Area (BRMA); and Who lives in your House with you, known as the size criteria.
You can find out which BRMA you property is located in by clicking here. You can also calculate your 'size criteria'.
Central Government have introduced 'caps' to the amount of LHA from the 1st April 2011 and the government website Gov.uk will provide you more information on this. This means that no area in the UK will receive LHA rates above the following:
- £250.00 per week for a one bedroom property
- £290.00 per week for a two bedroom property
- £340.00 per week for a three bedroom property
- £400.00 per week for a four bedroom property
Current LHA Rates
LHA rates are frozen for a period of one year and reviewed annually in line with the Consumer Price Index (CPI). This will replace the previous requirement to review the LHA amount used for each individual based on their unique annual anniversary date. This date was previously determined based on their date of claim, date they changed address or the date there was a significant change in their household circumstances.
Current LHA rates 2017/18
A non-dependant generally is a grown up Son or Daughter, Friend or Relative that lives within your household.
If you have a non-dependant adult, living in your household, your Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support could be subject to a non-dependant deduction, dependent upon their income, age, and your disability status. This is because it is assumed that the non-dependant will contribute towards your rent, rates and/or Council Tax.
There will be no non-dependant deduction where the claimant is:
- registered blind or has recently regained their sight
- receiving the care component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or Personal Independence Payments (PIP) - at any rate
- receives Attendance Allowance - at any rate
When a deduction is made:
One non-dependant deduction will be applied per non-dependant (or non-dependant couple) in your household. For non-dependants in renumerative work the level of deduction is based on their Gross earnings rather than their NET earnings. The lowest deduction will be applied for any non-dependant NOT in work, regardless of their income from state benefits or private pensions.
Non-dependants with no deduction:
- A non-dependant aged under 18
- A non-dependant in receipt of Pension Credits (either kind)
- A non-dependant aged under 25 receiving a passported benefit (excluding 'main phase' ESA)
- A Youth Trainee
- A non-dependant in prison or similar detention
- A non-dependant who has been in hospital for 52 weeks or more
- A temporary resident or visitor
- A full time student (during a period of study)
- A full time student (during a vacation period providing they are not in remunerative work during this period of time)
For any non-dependant in work a deduction will be applied to your Housing Benefit and/or Council Tax Support dependent upon the level of their Gross income.
An overpayment is when benefit has been paid to someone but they are not entitled to receive it. It is therefore important that you notify us of any change in circumstance as soon as possible in order to avoid being overpaid Housing Benefit. We have the discretion to recover all overpayments, except in some cases when the overpayment has come about as a result of 'official error'. Overpayments that are caused by 'official error' cannot be recovered, unless it was reasonable for the tenant or landlord to have known that they were being overpaid. Overpayments can be recovered from either the person who caused the overpayment, or the person who received the overpayment.
How are overpayments recovered?
The decision on how we choose to recover the overpayment is at our discretion and can not be appealed. If an invoice remains unpaid, or someone does not keep to an arrangement to repay the debt, over time this will lead to further action being taken. This may include pursuing the debt in the County Court.
What if I cannot afford the recovery rate being taken?
If you want us to look again at the amount we take from your Housing Benefit please contact us. In order to reach a decision, to reduce the amount we take, we may ask for more information.
If you are self employed and on a low income you may be entitled to Housing Benefit. In order for us to determine if you are eligible we will need to look at your net weekly income from your self employed earnings and any other income and capital that you may have.
In order to support your application for Housing Benefit we request that you provide your last six months income and expenditure accounts for your business. These do not have to be audited by a professional accountant but should show all of your weekly/monthly income and expenses. If you have only just become self employed we will require a 13-week forecast of your projected earnings and expenditure. We will then review your claim after this period to ensure that the income we are using for you is correct and that you are receiving the right amount of benefit.
If you have not kept records of your self employed accounts you should complete a 'Self Employed' proforma and provide this in support of your application for benefit. However, it is advised that for future purposes that you keep weekly/monthly records of your income and expenditure as this will be required to assess any future benefit entitlement. You may also be required to provide these in support of your Income Tax returns.