Housing Benefit: Local Housing Allowance

Local Housing Allowance and you: what is LHA?

Local Housing Allowance (LHA) is a new way of working out Housing Benefit for people who rent from a private landlord.

LHA is for people on a low income who rent from private landlords and is based on the number of rooms, up to a cap of 4 bedrooms (from 1 April 2011), that the household needs, not how much the rent is.

In summary:

  • LHA affects new claims, breaks in claim and change of addresses
  • It applies to most private sector accommodation with some exceptions (see below)
  • The rent officer will no longer value individual properties - this means there will be no more rent restrictions
  • In most cases LHA is paid directly to tenants
  • Safeguards will be in place to protect landlords from tenants who are vulnerable and/or unlikely to pay.

How is it calculated ?

The rent figure that is used for the Housing Benefit calculation is based on the area you or your tenant (if you are a landlord) lives in known as the Broad Rental Market Area and who lives with them (known as the Size Criteria). 

This data is provided on an annual basis by the Valuation Agency, Rent Service.

Who is it paid to?

Local Housing Allowance is usually paid to tenants and not to landlords. In some very special cases we may pay it to a landlord, if, as a tenant:

  • we think that you are likely to have difficulty managing your own affairs
  • we think that you are unlikely to use your Local Housing Allowance pay your rent
  • you have built up 8 weeks' or more rent arrears

Who cannot get Local Housing Allowance?

You cannot get Local Housing Allowance if:

  • you are a private tenant who was already getting Housing Benefit on 7 April 2008 and have had no break in your claim since
  • you are a council tenant
  • you are a tenant of a housing association
  • you are living in bed and breakfast accommodation
  • you live in a caravan, mobile home or house boat
  • your tenancy started before 1989
  • you live somewhere where you are provided with care, support or supervision

Local Housing Allowance may not apply if your rent includes an amount for meals. The rent officer will decide if this applies to your rent.