If you are a private tenant renting a property or room from a private landlord and you are on a low income, you may be able to claim Housing Benefit based on Local Housing Allowance (LHA).
What is Local Housing Allowance?
The amount of LHA you can get usually depends on how many bedrooms you need and the maximum rent allowed for properties in your area.
Local Housing Allowance only applies to private tenants who are making a new claim for Housing Benefit or who made a claim after 7 April 2008.
LHA does not apply to:
- Private tenants who have claimed continuously from before 7 April 2008.
- Private tenants with tenancies from before 15 January 1989.
- People living in hostels or bed and breakfast accommodation.
- People living in mobile homes or on houseboats.
LHA does not apply to council and housing association tenants – these tenants are subject to the rules in respect of the Social Sector Size Criteria.
Local Housing Allowance can cover your rent and some service charges if you have to pay them to continue living in the property. You cannot use LHA to pay for charges for heating, hot water, lighting, laundry or cooking.
You can claim Housing Benefit by filling out a benefit claim form [1Mb].
LHA rates are updated annually each April in line with other pensions and benefits. Your LHA claim may also be reassessed if your circumstances change – you must tell your local housing office if this happens.
Rooms allowed when calculating local housing allowance (LHA)
When you make a claim for LHA, you will be assessed as needing a bedroom for each of the following people in your household:
- an adult couple
- another person aged 16 or over
- any two children of the same sex up to the age of 16
- any two children regardless of sex under the age of 10
- any other child.
Foster children are included in this calculation.
If you claim LHA, the maximum amount you can get is limited to the top rate in your area for a four bedroom property. You can still rent a larger home, but you will only get Local Housing Allowance up to the maximum level for four bedrooms – and it’s likely that your LHA won’t cover all the rent.
If you are under the age of 35 or you are occupying shared accommodation, you are usually only entitled to LHA at the shared accommodation rate. This is lower than the rate for a one-bedroom property. It applies even if you can’t find shared accommodation in your area and are renting a property on your own.
LHA rates for 1 April 2017 to 31 March 2018
- Shared Accommodation Rate (also applies to single claimants under 35): £58.41 per week
- One Bedroom Rate: £72.72 per week
- Two Bedrooms Rate: £92.98 per week
- Three Bedrooms Rate: £103.56 per week
- Four Bedroom Rate: £145.43 per week