What is Local Housing Allowance (LHA)?
In April 2008, the way in which Housing Benefit is calculated for most tenants renting from a private landlord changed. This new scheme is called Local Housing Allowance. The Local Housing Allowance rates are based on the number of bedrooms required by you and those in your household.
Under normal rules you are entitled to one bedroom for:
- Every adult couple who are married or unmarried
- Any 2 children of the same sex aged under 16
- Any 2 children aged under 10
- Carer/s providing regular overnight care
You can find out how many bedrooms you may be entitled to on the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) Website.
Who is affected by Local Housing Allowance?
All new claims made on or after 7 April 2008 will be Local Housing Allowance claims except for the following:
- Local Authority tenancies
- Registered Social Landlord tenancies
- Protected cases such as supported housing provided by certain Local Authorities, Registered Social Landlords, charities and voluntary organisations
- Tenancies that are excluded from current rent restrictions such as tenancies entered into prior to 15 January 1989
- Exceptional cases such as caravans, houseboats, tents, mobile homes and hostels
- Cases where the VOA judges that a substantial part of the rent is attributable to board and lodging, such as hotel accommodation
How long does an award of LHA last?
Your award will last for a year from your Housing Benefit start date unless a relevant change of circumstance happens.
There are 4 circumstances in which an LHA award may be updated within the year:
- a change in the number of occupiers
- there is a provision within the original tenancy agreement for a periodic rent increase
- a change of address within the period of the LHA award
- there is a death in the household
How will payments be made?
The payments will normally be paid direct to you rather than your landlord. Safeguards will be put in place to protect the vulnerable.
Factors we would take into consideration are:
- Does the customer have difficulty in managing their affairs
- Is it probable that the customer would not pay their rent
For further information on bank accounts and money management visit the Financial Services Association website. If at any time you experience difficulties managing your finances, Reading Welfare Rights or the Citizens Advice Bureau will be able to advise you. Visit their websites here: Reading Welfare Rights and Citizens Advice Bureau.
Right of appeal
There is no right of appeal or redetermination about the levels of the Local Housing Allowance or Broad Market Rental Areas.
All other Housing Benefit appeal rights are unaffected.
Claims made before 7 April 2008
If you are already in receipt of Housing Benefit or claim Housing Benefit before 7 April 2008, you will not be transferred to the LHA scheme. You will continue to have your claim assessed under the rules current before that date.
If you subsequently change address or have a break in your claim which requires a new claim after 7 April 2008, your claim will be assessed under the LHA rules.
LHA Rates for 2012/13
The LHA Rates for April 2012 below will stay in force for one year. There will be no new rates file until April 2013.