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Local housing allowance

Local Housing Allowance (LHA) is for private lettings tenants. While it helps with housing costs, it is calculated differently to the benefit known as ‘housing benefit’. This benefit is only available to families with three or more dependent children. If you have two children who live with you, then you could apply for Universal Credit from the Department of Work and Pension.

Who LHA is relevant for

Most people who want help with housing costs should claim universal credit. However, local housing allowance may be relevant for:

  • someone in supported or temporary housing
  • someone with three or more children
  • a pensioner, who also does not live with a working age adult

A pensioner who does live with a working age adult might be included in that adult’s universal credit claim. If the working age adult is not claiming universal credit, the pensioner could claim local housing allowance.

Conditions when LHA does not apply

Local housing allowance does not apply if:

  • your landlord is a housing association
  • your rent has been registered as a “fair rent”
  • your tenancy started before 1989
  • your tenancy includes the provision of care, support or supervision, and is provided by local authorities, social landlords, charities or voluntary organizations
  • your accommodation is a caravan, mobile home or houseboat
  • you are claiming universal credit

LHA may not apply if your rent includes a substantial amount for board and attendance, as at private hostel accommodation. This will be decided by the independent rent officer.

Learn more about local housing allowance from the UK government.

Criteria for calculating LHA

How much LHA you may get depends on:

  • who lives with you
  • which area you want to live in
  • your income
  • what savings you have

The number of rooms needed

LHA is a flat rate housing allowance. The number of people who live with you will be used to calculate how many bedrooms you need.

One bedroom is allowed for:

  • every adult couple
  • any other adult aged 16 or over
  • any two children regardless of sex under 10
  • any two children of the same sex under 16
  • any other child

The number of other rooms is ignored, as all tenants are entitled to these.

If you rent a bedsit or a room in a shared house, you will only qualify for the shared room LHA rate. Please use the LHA bedroom entitlement calculator if you are unsure. You can see our current LHA room rates here.

Single people aged under 35

For a room in shared accommodation, a single person under 35 living without a non-dependant is entitled to the standard rate of LHA. However, this is a more generous entitlement than the existing single room rent which is limited to just a room’s rate in shared housing. The new rate is based on properties where the tenant has sole use of one bedroom, and can use one or more:

  • kitchens
  • bathrooms
  • toilets
  • rooms suitable for inhabiting

Severely disabled people under 35 and care leavers under 22 are entitled to the LHA rate for a one bedroom self-contained property. That is, as long as they rent a property of at least that size. Anyone qualifying for a severe disability premium will qualify for the one room rate regardless of their accommodation’s size.

The amount of LHA due

There have been no changes to the housing benefit entitlement rules. They are still based on a person’s financial circumstances, and proof of a valid tenancy agreement.

LHA is the maximum benefit you can receive towards your rent. The amount you will receive still depends on:

  • the money you have coming in each week
  • what savings you have
  • who else lives with you

If you are subject to the benefit cap, please take this into account when calculating your housing benefit entitlement.

Method of payment

Usually, LHA is paid direct to the tenant, and it will be the tenant’s responsibility to pay rent to the landlord. LHA is given by bank transfer or crossed cheque. This means you will need to open a bank account if you do not have one already. Some people may struggle with this responsibility, and if required, help is available.

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