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December 12 General Election

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Local Housing Allowance

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Information about the Local Housing Allowance and how it applies to private tenants claiming Housing Benefit.

Local Housing Allowance (LHA) is the way of deciding rent payments for people renting from private landlords and receiving Housing Benefit.

The rate is based on the size of the household and the area in which the property is rented and is not dependant on the rent that is charged.  The benefit that you receive may be lower than the actual rent.  The rate of LHA that you receive will be looked at each year.

Other circumstances, such as the money that you have coming in or other people living in the household, will still affect the amount of benefit paid, so again you may not always receive the full rate of LHA.

How many bedrooms am I entitled to?

The number of people who live with you is used to work out how many bedrooms you are entitled to. We do not count other rooms such as living rooms, kitchens or bathrooms.  The number of bedrooms you need is then used to work out your LHA rate, to a maximum of 4 rooms.

One bedroom is allowed for:

  • Every adult couple (married or living together)
  • Any other adult aged 16 or over
  • Any 2 children of the same sex under 16
  • Any 2 children under 10
  • Any other child
  • A Carer who needs to stay overnight with you (subject to certain conditions)

For further information visit the Direct.Gov website.

Who is not affected by LHA?

The LHA rules do not apply to:

  • People who rent from a Housing Association
  • People whose tenancy started before 1989 or who have a registered fair rent
  • People who receive care and support
  • People who live in hostels, caravans, mobile homes or houseboats
  • People whose rent includes meals
  • People whose private tenancy started before April 2008 and have been getting Housing Benefit continuously since then

How is LHA paid?

You no longer have the choice of direct payments to a landlord.  LHA is paid directly to you and you have to make arrangements to pay your landlord.  Payments will normally be paid directly into a bank account.

In exceptional circumstances we may make payments to landlords.  This will only happen if there are very good reasons for us to do so, such as you being unlikely to pay your rent or having rent arrears.  We also have discretion to make payments to a landlord if we are satisfied that doing so would help secure a tenancy.

Please ask us for further details and to discuss your specific circumstances.

 How is it worked out?

LHA is a flat rate set by the Valuation Office Agency that will be used by us to work out the amount of Housing Benefit you are entitled to. The LHA rate will depend upon the area that you live in and the number of people who live in your household.  The LHA rate is the maximum amount of benefit you could receive towards your rent and this may reduce depending on your income.

 What else might affect the LHA rate?

There are extra rules if you are:

  • Aged under 35, single and do not live with any dependents
  • Aged 35 or over, single and live in shared accommodation
  • A couple who do not live with any dependents and live in shared accommodation
  • You are a care leaver aged under 22
  • You are severely disabled
  • If you are a joint tenant this may affect the benefit you can get. Please contact us for advice.

What if my rent is not the same as the LHA rate that applies to me?

If your rent is higher than the LHA rate that applies to you, your claim will be based on the LHA rate.  If you receive housing benefit but it does not cover your full eligible rent you may be able to get a Discretionary Housing Payment.  Ask us for further details.

Further information

If you would like further information you can:

  • Phone us on 01946 598 300
  • Visit us at our Whitehaven, Cleator Moor or Millom Offices
  • Email us at
  • Our opening hours are 8:45 to 5:15 Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, 10:00 to 5:15 Wednesdays and 08:45 to 4:30 Fridays
Published: 17 May 2012 - 9:37am