Local Housing Allowance (LHA)
What is Local Housing Allowance (LHA)?
This is a flat-rate allowance based on the size of the customer's household and the area in which they live. It uses the Broad Rental Market Areas (BRMA) decided by the Valuation Office Agency (VOA). The LHA is applied to privately rented tenancies across the UK and is not based on the rent that a landlord charges for a property.
The LHA is the maximum amount of Housing Benefit a tenant could receive towards their rent. The maximum amount you could receive will be the same for every same size household in the Tendring District Council area, no matter what differences there are in the actual rent you or the other households pay.
Under the current LHA rules the maximum LHA that can be paid to a claimant is the four bedroom room rate, even if the claimant's circumstances require more than 4 bedrooms.
The amount you will get will depend on your income and savings.
Who decides the LHA rates?
The LHA rates payable are decided by the Valuation Office Agency (VOA). They look at the rates each month; though they do not necessarily change them every time. The figures are then passed to us to use in our calculations.
How are LHA rates worked out?
The amount of LHA that a Claimant receives depends on:
- The area they live in, known as the Broad Rental Market Area; and
- Who lives with them, known as the Size Criteria
What are Broad Rental Market Areas (BRMA)?
The Valuation Office Agency (VOA) no longer value individual properties. Instead they set monthly LHA rates for different size properties within different areas based on the average (median) rent charged by private landlords. These areas are called Broad Rental Market Areas.
Tendring has just one Broad Market Rental Area.
How much Local Housing Allowance will a Claimant get?
Please see the document LHA Rates in Useful Documents for the LHA rates- this includes the rates up to November 2012
Are there different LHA rates in different parts of Tendring?
No, there is only one set of LHA rates for the whole of the district.
How often will Claimant's LHA rates be reviewed?
The LHA rates will normally be reviewed after a year, on the anniversary of the LHA start date. At this time it will be amended to use the current rate. However, if a Claimant has a change of circumstances that requires the LHA to be amended before that date, then the new review date will be a year from the date the LHA was changed.
Additional bedroom for overnight carers
From 1st April 2011, there is a new provision that permits an extra bedroom to be included in the Housing Benefit assessment for tenants in the private rented sector. This will only apply where:
- The claimant or partner has an established need for overnight care
- That care is provided by someone outside of the household
- The claimant occupies a property that has an additional bedroom for the sole purpose of a carer / team of carers to use overnight
Where the claimant resides in a four bedroom or larger property, they will not benefit from this change because the maximum LHA rate has been restricted to a four bedroom rate.
What changes in circumstances would lead to an LHA rate review?
- A single Claimant turning 35 (previously under 25).
- A Partner joining or leaving the household (After January 2012 if the Claimant is under 35).
- The birth of a new baby.
- A Child or Non Dependant Adult joining or leaving the household.
- Children turning 10 or 16.
After January 2012 if the Claimant is under 35, a Partner moving in or out will not affect the LHA rates payable as one bedroom is allowed for both a single Claimant and a couple.
If the LHA rate is reviewed then the next annual review will be due 1 year after the date the LHA was changed.
What happens if the rent increases before the LHA is due to be reviewed?
LHA does not take into account the actual rent paid so a rent increase will not lead to a review of the LHA rate used.
How do people find out how much the LHA is?
The LHA rates for the current month are publicised in Council receptions / cash offices and here on our website.
The published LHA rates only cover properties with up to 4 bedrooms, what if a Claimant needs more?
The maximum is 4 bedrooms.
Size Criteria - How many rooms is a Claimant entitled to?
LHA is based on bedrooms only. A Claimant is entitled to 1 bedroom each for:
- The Claimant (and Partner if applicable),
- Any other adult aged 16 or over,
- Any two Children under 16 of the same sex,
- Any two Children regardless of sex under age 10,
- Any other Child.
How much can a single person under 35 get?
Single Claimants under 35 can only be paid the lowest LHA rate, the “Shared Accommodation rate”, regardless of the type of accommodation they actually live in.
From 1st January 2012 onwards the Government changed and stated that all single people under 35 currently receiving housing benefit will be restricted to the shared accommodation rate. This means that we will not be able to pay more than the shared accommodation rate, even if they live in a larger property and their actual rent is higher. Instead, they will have to make up the shortfall or move to a lower priced accommodation.
However, you maybe able to get extra help from separate government funding called a Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP). A DHP is extra help that may be provided to claimants as short-term assistance to cover the top-up in rent.
If you wish to apply for a DHP please contact the Revenues & Benefits Department on 01255 686811 or visit our reception:
Revenues & Benefits Offices
88-90 Pier Avenue
Also from 1st January 2012 onwards, single people under 35 applying for housing benefit for the first time or as a result of having moved after this date will be restricted to the shared accommodation rate immediately.
“Shared Accommodation” is when a claimant has the exclusive use of one bedroom, and shares the use of one or more of a kitchen, bathroom and toilet.
However if you are single and under 35 and awarded the “severe disability premium” or a care leaver under 22 the shared room rate does not apply to you.
What happens if the LHA is higher than the rent?
If the LHA rate is higher than the rent a Claimant is paying, then the housing benefit they receive can only be paid up to the rent.
What about any services that are included in the rent?
LHA takes no account of any services or charges included in the rent. No deductions are made from the LHA for these.
Who will LHA be Paid to?
LHA will, wherever possible, be paid to the Claimant.
Can LHA be paid into a Post Office Card Account?
No, the Claimant will need to have a Bank or Building Society Current Account.
What happens if a Claimant doesn't have a bank account?
They will need to open one. If they are unable to open a Current Account then they may still be able to get a Basic Bank Account. Further details on what accounts are available, and money advice, can be found at the Money Advice Service web site. General financial advice is also available from the Citizens Advice Bureau.
Can payment still be made to Landlords / Agents?
Local Housing Allowance is usually paid direct to the Claimant; however we maybe able to pay direct to the Landlord in special circumstances if paying direct to the Claimant will cause serious problems:
- The tenant has difficulty managing their own affairs
- The tenant has a medical condition or health problem which makes it difficult for them to manage their finances
- The tenant is 8 weeks or more in arrears with their rent
Each case will be decided on its own merits and maybe reviewed regularly - how often will depend on the reasons given.
What happens if the size of a household changes?
If the change means that a claimant is entitled to more or less bedrooms, then the LHA rate will be amended to the correct rate for the number of rooms now required. The next annual review will then be due 1 year after the date the LHA was changed.
Who can appeal against the LHA rate payable?
It is not possible to appeal against the LHA rate itself as this flat rate is used for all similar sized properties in an area.
However, both the Claimant and Landlord / Agent can appeal if they think that we have used the wrong level of LHA rate on a specific claim i.e. they believe the Claimant is entitled to more bedrooms than we have allowed.
Who can appeal against a decision in respect of Landlord / Agent Payments?
Both the Claimant and Landlord / Agent can appeal against a decision that the LHA should or should not be paid to the Landlord / Agent.
Or if you have any questions for us you can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org