Local Housing Allowance
If you are renting from a private landlord and claiming Housing Benefit, the maximum level of benefit payable will be your actual rent (if it is below Local Housing Allowance (LHA) levels or the LHA rate). However, there are certain exclusions from the LHA scheme, such as supported housing and bed and breakfast accommodation.
Under the LHA scheme:
There are 'standard rates' of allowance depending on the number of bedrooms you and your family need.
With Local Housing Allowance, your benefit is based on:
- who lives with you;
- which area you live in;
- how much money you have coming in; and
- what savings you have.
In some cases the amount of benefit you are entitled to will be affected by other things. These can include:
- how much your rent is; and
- whether anyone living with you is expected to contribute to your rent.
- whether you receive other state benefits.
With LHA you will know, before you find somewhere to live, how much the maximum amount of help with your rent you may be entitled to. By knowing how much you might get, it is easier for you to decide what type of property you can afford.
Weekly Local Housing Allowance rates
These allowances are set by The Rent Service and apply from April each year .The LHA rate you will be entitled to will depend on how many people are in your household. It also depends on which area your property falls into. Brentwood is divided into three areas for LHA purposes.
|No of bedrooms||1. Harlow & Stortford||2. South West Essex||3. Chelmsford||4. Outer North East London|
|Shared room rate||£76.50||£76.64||£90.10||£101.61|
NB: If you do not know which area your property will fall into you can search by postcode at the Valuation Office Agency website or contact The Benefit Department.
How many bedrooms?
One bedroom is allowed for each of the following:
- A married couple or an unmarried couple who live together as husband and wife.
- Someone who is 16 or over.
- Two children of the same sex.
- Two children who are younger than 10.
- A Child (a child is someone under 16)
The maximum number of bedrooms used to work out your benefit is 4, even if you have a large family.
If you are single and aged under 35 you are only entitled to the shared accommodation rate. This is where facilities such as a kitchen and/or bathroom are shared and there is exclusive use of one room only.
Room for a carer–
If you or your partner has a need for overnight care, and this is provided by a non-resident carer, the bedroom used can be included when calculating your LHA rate (subject to the maximum 4 bed rate).
Changes to the size criteria from 1st April 2017
Consideration can now be given for an extra bedroom for Housing Benefit purposes under the following criteria:
Disabled child or disabled non-dependant adult reasonably requires and has overnight care from a non-resident carer (or group of carers)
The qualifying conditions are that, firstly, the disabled child or adult non-dependant reasonably requires, and has, overnight care on a regular basis from a non-resident carer (or team of carers).
To meet this qualifying condition, the claimant needs to be able to demonstrate that:
- Care has been arranged
- A spare bedroom is available for the carer (or team of carers); and
- An extra bedroom has not already been provided for a non-resident overnight carer (or team or carers) in the same household.
Secondly, the disabled child or non-dependant adult must be in receipt of:
- Middle or higher rate care component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
- Attendance Allowance (AA)
- The daily living component of Personal Independence Payment (PIP); or
- The Armed Forces Independence Payment (AFIP).
Couple unable to share because of a disability
To meet the qualifying conditions, the Local Authority will first need to make an assessment on whether an individual cannot reasonably share a bedroom with the other member of the couple because of his or her disability.
The further qualifying condition is that one member of the couple is in receipt of:
- The middle or higher rate care component of DLA
- Higher rate AA
- The daily living component of PIP; or
If you believe these circumstances apply to you please complete the Additional Room Allowance form
Local Housing Allowance (LHA) review dates
All Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates will be reviewed on 1st April each year.
For April 2017, the LHA has remained unchanged from the 2016 rates, bar a slight change to some of the shared accommodation rates.
How do I get paid my housing benefit?
With LHA, housing benefit is usually paid to you and not to your landlord. You cannot normally choose to have your local housing allowance paid direct to your landlord. We can pay benefit to your landlord if we decide that you are likely to have difficulty paying your rent or if your landlord agrees to reduce your rent to the LHA level.
Usually you will have your benefit paid directly to you. It will be paid to you directly into your bank or building society account. If you do not already have a bank or building society account, you should open one. That way you can arrange to pay the rent to your landlord automatically. You should do this with a direct debit or standing order.
You can get advice about opening and running a bank account from any bank or building society. Ask your bank about a basic bank account. You can also get advice from local welfare organisations such as the Citizens Advice Bureau. You could also consider a credit
As a tenant you are responsible for paying your rent to your landlord. If you do not pay the rent your landlord may apply to the local authority to have it paid to them, or take other action to recover their money. If you are in rent arrears your landlord may be able to go to the courts and ask that you be evicted from your home. If you are in more than 8 weeks of arrears we will pay your landlord directly and you may risk losing your home.