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Local Housing Allowance

Last updated 1 July 2014

What is Local Housing Allowance (LHA)?

Local Housing Allowance helps with the cost of rent and is for people on a low income renting from a private landlord.

LHA is based on the broad rental market area and the number of bedrooms the tenant is allowed (based on who lives with them), not on how much their rent is.

When we calculate your LHA, the figure we use for your rent is either your rent, or a fixed amount based on where your property is and the number of bedrooms you need, whichever is the lower. The fixed amount is the maximum we use in the calculation, even if the rent you pay is higher.

However, the actual amount of LHA you get will depend upon your income, capital (such as savings) and if you have other adults living with you.

Find out how many bedrooms you are entitled to under LHA and find out what your LHA rate is at the Valuation Office Agency website.

How to apply

You can apply for Local Housing Allowance in the same way as you apply for Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support.

The application process is an online process; you cannot submit a paper application.

Who cannot get Local Housing Allowance?

You cannot get Local Housing Allowance if:

  • You are a private tenant who is already getting Housing Benefit (unless you move or have a break in your claim, on or after 7 April 2008) as you will continue to get your Housing Benefit
  • You are a council tenant
  • You are a tenant of a housing association (in most cases)
  • You are living in bed and breakfast accommodation
  • You live in a caravan, mobile home or house boat
  • Your tenancy started before 1989; or
  • You live somewhere where you are provided with care, support or supervision

Rather than Local Housing Allowance, you may be able to get Housing Benefit instead.

Local Housing Allowance may not apply if your rent includes an amount for meals. The Valuation Office will decide if this applies to your rent.

Shared Accommodation Rate - for people under 35

The following applies if:

  • You are single
  • Under the age of 35
  • Don't get severe disability premium
  • You are entitled to Local Housing Allowance

When we calculate your benefit, the maximum rent figure we can use is the Shared Accommodation Rate of Local Housing Allowance. We cannot consider the actual size of your property, or use the rent you pay if it is more than this rate.

However, this rule will not apply if:

  • You have a partner, or
  • A non-dependant adult lives with you, or
  • You are getting Child Benefit for a child in your care, or
  • You qualify for certain disability benefits, or
  • You are aged under 22 and have been in care

This means that the maximum benefit that we can pay a single person under 35 will be limited to the rate for a single room in a shared property or a bedsit, even if they live in a self-contained property such as a one-bedroom flat.

What is the shared accommodation rate?

The Shared Accommodation Rate is based on the tenant having sole use of a bedroom or bedsit, and shared use of some or all of the facilities, for example a kitchen, living room or bathroom and toilet.

Local Housing Allowance rates

The amounts of Local Housing Allowance are set by the independent Valuation Office Agency and are no longer reviewed each month.

Weekly LHA rates for Waltham Forest from 1 April 2014 to 31 March 2015
Number of bedrooms Outer North East London Outer East London
Shared accommodation rate £72.26 £73.62
1 bedroom self contained £154.83 £180.00
2 bedrooms £190.96 £220.75
3 bedrooms £233.08 £275.94
4 or more bedrooms £309.67 £318.86
Monthly LHA rates for Waltham Forest from 1 April 2014 to 31 March 2015
Number of bedrooms Outer North East London Outer East London
Shared rate £313.97 £319.90
1 bedroom rate £672.79 £782.16
2 bedroom rate £829.77 £959.21
3 bedroom rate £1012.78 £1199.04
4 or more bedroom rate
£1,345.57
£1,385.54

Rent arrears

We will normally pay your Housing Benefit to your landlord if:

  • you have eight weeks or more rent arrears or
  • you are having deductions for rent arrears taken from your Income Support, Jobseekers' Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance or Pension Credit

The landlord must provide evidence to show the rent that was due, any payments that have been made, and the amount of rent still outstanding.

Landlords are encouraged to contact the Benefit Service when rent arrears are equal to five weeks' rent to give us time to gather information before the arrears reach the equivalent of eight weeks' rent.

If you want to tell the Benefits Service that your tenant is in arrears with their rent, please download the Landlord Rent Arrears form (62KB Word file) then complete and return it to us with supporting evidence.

"Safeguard"

"Safeguard" is used where direct payment of Housing Benefit to the landlord helps claimants who might not otherwise be able to pay their rent themselves. The direct payment is a safeguard to ensure rent is paid on time and the claimant and their family can continue to live in their home.

The Council can pay Housing Benefit to the landlord for up to eight weeks while it is gathering information to help it decide who to pay Benefit to.

Some of the groups included in the safeguard policy are people:

  • With learning difficulties
  • With medical conditions that seriously affect their ability to manage on a day to day basis
  • Who are unable to read, write or speak English where this affects their ability to manage their financial affairs
  • With addictions to drugs, alcohol or gambling where this affects their ability to manage their financial affairs
  • Who have experienced recent changes and as a result need additional support in managing their affairs
  • Who are receiving help under the Supporting People scheme
  • With a history of homelessness and / or rough sleeping who are receiving help to sustain a tenancy in the private sector
  • Who are receiving help from a homeless charity
  • With severe debt problems or recent County Court Judgements
  • Who are unable to obtain a bank account, including people who are physically unable to open an account
  • Who have deductions from their Pension Credit, Income Support, Employment and Support Allowance or Jobseeker's Allowance for housing costs - housing costs include service charges and utility bills, which are part of the rent

This list is not exhaustive. Each case will be looked at on its own merits.

More information about our safeguard policy (56KB Word file)

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

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