Local housing allowance

Information for tenants

The Local Housing Allowance (LHA) is a maximum amount towards private rent costs, worked out based on your circumstances (for example, family size) and the broad area you live in. Local Housing Allowance replaces Housing Benefit.

LHA will apply to you if you are:

  • A private tenant claiming on or after 7 April 2008.
  • An existing housing benefit claimant in a private tenancy, who has a break in your claim of more than one week, from 7 April 2008.
  • An existing housing benefit claimant who moves to a new private tenancy on or after 7 April 2008.

A private tenant is anyone renting a room from a private landlord. This does not include council or housing association tenants.

We will continue to pay Housing Benefit, rather than LHA, to the following types of tenants in private rented accommodation:

  • Tenants who have a registered fair rent.
  • Tenancies that started before 1989.
  • Tenancies where care, supervision or support is included.
  • Tenancies of caravans, mobile homes or houseboats.
  • Tenancies where a substantial part of the rent is for board and attendance.

If you claim for what appears to be board and lodgings, we refer the claim to the rent officer who is part of the Valuation Office Agency to decide if it is eligible for LHA. Usually it won’t be eligible, but you can claim for ordinary housing benefit for board and lodging.

Search for Local Housing Allowance rates by postcode or local authority.

Visit gov.uk for more on how LHA rates are set.

Local Housing Allowance amounts

LHA rates vary in different areas and are maximum amounts, which are means-tested. The more money you have coming in the less benefit you will get.

The amount of LHA you receive does not depend on how much rent you pay, but will depend on:

  • Who lives with you.
  • What area you live in.
  • What money you have coming in.
  • What savings you have.
  • Who lives with you.
  • What area you live in.
  • What money you have coming in.
  • What savings you have.

The LHA rates are based on the number of bedrooms, with the four bedroom rate being the maximum; if your family needs more than four bedrooms you will be responsible for making up any rent shortfall. If your rent is lower than the LHA you are entitled to, we will only pay you the amount of the rent.

Paying the Local Housing Allowance

We pay the LHA direct to you. You must pay your landlord yourself and have a bank or building society account we can pay your LHA into.

In exceptional cases we may be able to pay the LHA direct to your landlord in line with our Vulnerability Policy and Safeguards for Landlords.

Information for landlords

Some tenants may struggle with the responsibility for paying their rent to private landlords. In such cases, at our discretion, we can decide to make payments direct to landlords in the following circumstances:

  • If we consider the tenant is likely to have difficulty managing his or her own affairs. Vulnerabilities behind this could include having a learning disorder or a drug or alcohol problem. Our LHA Vulnerability Policy sets out the guidelines we follow in these cases.
  • If we believe the tenant is unlikely to use their LHA to pay their rent, because we know they have previously failed to do so when their LHA has been backdated, or there has been a delay in processing a claim and a large amount of benefit is due to be paid. We may decide to make the first payment direct to the landlord.
  • If the tenant has built up rent arrears of eight weeks or more and payment direct to the landlord is implemented under housing benefit regulations. We can decide to continue making payments direct to the landlord, even after the arrears have fallen below eight weeks.
  • If the tenant is having deductions taken from their Income Support or Jobseeker’s Allowance to pay off rent arrears.

To implement any of these we must have documented evidence to support our decision.

Find out more about Discretionary payments.

Find out more about our Vulnerability policy.