Local Housing Allowance
Local Housing Allowance (LHA) replaced the Rent Allowance Scheme from 7th April 2008. Further changes have been made to LHA from April 2011 and January 2012. From April 2013, LHA amounts will be reviewed every April for everyone rather than on the anniversary of the claim. This brings them all into line for one annual review and is part of the Government's Welfare Reform programme.
Local Housing Allowance is the Government's way of working out Housing Benefit for people who rent from a private landlord. The amount you get will be based on the number of bedrooms your household needs, not how much rent you pay.
How is Local Housing Allowance worked out?
This is based on the number of bedrooms your household needs, not necessarily the number of bedrooms you have. This is sometimes called the size criteria.
The Government allows a set rate of LHA based on number of bedrooms. One bedroom allowed each for:
- every adult couple (married or unmarried)
- any other adult over 16yrs (eg a single adult)
- any two children of the same sex, under the age of 16yrs
- any two children of either sex,under 10 yrs
- any other child
- A non-resident carer (from April 2011)
Example:- a couple who live in a three-bed roomed house with two children of the opposite sex, but both children under the age of 10yrs, would be assessed as needing two bedrooms and would therefore have their future LHA based on the rate for a two-bed roomed house.
In the above example, when the elder child reaches 10yrs the LHA rate would increase to the three-bedroom rate. This is because a bedroom would now be allowed for each child.
What's the next step?
Once the number of bedrooms you need is worked out, the next step is to look up the Local Housing Allowance rate for the area that you live. The Valuation Office Agency has reviewed all areas of the U.K, containing privately rented accommodation and has set these areas depending on their access to services, transport, schools etc. These will be known as Broad Rental Market Areas (BRMA)
Bassetlaw will fall into three Broad market Rental Areas, they are:
- Mansfield, Worksop and Retford (North Notts)
- Newark & Grantham
Each area will have a weekly LHA rate set by the Valuation Office Agency and these will be published these pages so that you can check how much your Benefit will be based on.
|Category||Description||North Notts||Doncaster||Newark & Grantham|
|A||Shared or under 35 years||£58.41||£55.12||£59.04|
What happens when I apply for Housing Benefit?
The Valuation Office Agency will publish figures for each category (number of bedrooms) and rental area annually. The amount used in your benefit calculation will be fixed, unless there is a change in circumstance which would affect the number of bedrooms you need or the area you live in. It would still be based on the fixed LHA rate even if your rent increases during this twelve month period.
To work out a claim, the Council still needs to collect the same information and evidence as before for rent, capital and income. This has not changed. The LHA rate is used in the calculation of entitlement in the same way as before, so your income level could affect the amount you are entitled to.
There will be no right of appeal against the LHA rates provided by the Valuation Office Agency but a tenant would still be able to appeal to the Council, as usual, about the level of benefit awarded.
- You will not be able to get more money for Housing Benefit than the rent you are charged.
- There will no longer be a five bedroom Local Housing Allowance rate. The maximum level is for a four bedroom property.
- Single people under the age of 35 years will only be able to get the shared accommodation rate from January 2012
How will you pay my allowance?
Under the old rent allowance rules we could pay Housing Benefit either to the claimant or direct to the landlord or someone else. Under the new rules we will pay the LHA direct to the claimant who will be responsible for paying the rent themselves. New claims will be paid 4 weekly, in arrears.
It may be possible to pay your LHA direct to your landlord if you can show that your rent has been reduced to the LHA levels or to help you keep your tenancy. These will be considered on a case by case basis.
However there may be other occasions where it would be more appropriate to to make the LHA payments direct to the landlord. This will be looked at on an individual basis by the Council and applies to vulnerable tenants and those who think they may have difficulties paying the rent themselves.
Will I need a bank account?
Yes, It would be better if we could pay your LHA directly into a bank account. Receiving your LHA this way means you can:
- get your money quicker, with funds clearing straight away
- get your money at cash machines, your bank branch, the post office and at some supermarkets who offer 'Cashback' facilities
- set up a standing order from your account to pay your rent to the landlord
- your money is safer, as cheques can go missing or be stolen
- no more queuing up to cash a cheque or to pay it in to your bank. Sooner or later,cheques will be phased out
- its cheaper for the Council to pay direct to a bank account
The Council will ask you for your bank account number and sort code. All details are kept strictly confidential and secure and won't be used for any other purpose.