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Local Housing Allowance

The Local Housing Allowance (LHA) is based on the area in which the claimant lives and the number of people living in their household. It is not based on the rent that they are charged by their landlord. The LHA rate is used to calculate housing benefit entitlement for most customers living in privately rented accommodation.

What you need to work out if LHA applies to you

  • How many bedrooms you and your household need
  • The LHA rate that applies to a property you are interested in renting (this will help you decide whether you can afford the property you want to rent)

You will then know the maximum amount upon which housing benefit entitlement can be based. Remember, this is not necessarily the amount of housing benefit you will get, as the council will still need to calculate that from the details you provide on your benefit claim form.

The size criteria

One bedroom is allowed for:

  • Any adult couple
  • Any other adult aged 16 or over
  • Any two children of the same sex aged up to the age of 15
  • Any two children aged under 10
  • Any other child

Examples

A couple with a 14-year-old child would be entitled to the two bedroom rate; one bedroom for themselves as a couple, and one bedroom for the child.

A lone parent with a 12-year-old boy, a nine year old girl and a non-dependant would be entitled to the four bedroom rate; one bedroom for themselves, one bedroom for the boy, one bedroom for the girl and one bedroom for the non-dependant.

Payment of housing benefit

Normally, housing benefit will be paid to the claimant as it is the government’s intention that benefit claimants should be encouraged to take responsibility for budgeting and paying their rent themselves.

However, there are certain circumstances where we must or can use our discretion to pay housing benefit direct to the landlord. These include:

  • We must pay the landlord where the claimant has rent arrears of eight weeks or more
  • Where we consider that the claimant may have difficulty managing their own affairs
  • Where we consider that it is unlikely that the claimant will pay their rent
  • Where we consider that paying the landlord direct will secure a new or existing tenancy as the landlord has reduced the level of rent

Does the local housing allowance scheme apply to all housing benefit claims?

Local housing allowance does not apply if:

  • The accommodation is rented from the council
  • The accommodation is rented from a housing association
  • The tenancy is excluded from rent restrictions
  • The tenancy includes the provision of care, support or supervision and is provided by a social landlord, charity or voluntary organisation
  • The tenancy includes substantial board and attendance
  • The accommodation is a caravan, mobile home or houseboat

What happens if the rent is not the same as the local housing allowance rate that applies to me?

You cannot receive any more housing benefit than the amount of rent you pay. If your rent is higher than the local housing allowance rate appropriate to your case the maximum amount of housing benefit you will receive will be the local housing allowance rate. You will need to make up any shortfall yourself or ask your landlord to reduce your rent. Or you could request a discretionary housing payment.

What should I do if I disagree with a decision that you have made with regard to my benefit claim?

You may submit an appeal.

Local housing allowance room rates

The local housing allowance (LHA) is a flat-rate housing allowance and the rate of LHA that a claimant qualifies for depends on the area in which they live and the number of people living in their household.

Current LHA rates

The maximum LHA rate that can be used to calculate housing benefit entitlement is the four bedroom LHA rate.

Child reaching the age of 10 or 16

When a child reaches the age of 10 or 16 the LHA level will be reviewed. Where appropriate the new LHA rate will apply from the Monday following the child's birthday.

Non-resident overnight carers and severely disabled people

If you have a severely disabled person in your household and use non-resident overnight carers, you may be entitled to additional bedrooms.

Find out if you are entitled to an additional bedroom.

Foster children

Previously an extra bedroom was not allowed under LHA rules for a foster child as they were not part of the household. However, from 1 April 2013, the Government changed the regulations to allow for an extra bedroom for a foster child or children of an approved foster carer. One extra bedroom will apply to:

  • Approved foster carers who have a child placed with them
  • Approved foster carers who are between placements but only for a period of up to 52 consecutive weeks from the date of the last placement
  • Newly approved foster carers but only for a period of up to 52 consecutive weeks from the date of approval, if no child is placed with them during that period.

Parents of armed forces personnel

Adult children who are in the armed forces, and lived with their parents prior to deployment and intend to return to live with their parents will be treated as continuing to live at home with regard to the size criteria rules for LHA. Therefore, an extra bedroom will be allowed within the LHA whilst the non-dependant adult is away on deployment (this includes pre-deployment training and post operation leave). In addition to this, no non-dependant deduction will be made whilst the non-dependant is away and will only be re-instated upon their return if applicable. Proof of the deployment must be obtained from the non-dependant's chain of command

Joint tenants

Joint tenants will receive a rate of LHA based solely on the claimant's family, plus any non-dependants, sub-tenants or boarders of the claimant.

Under 35s

If you are under the age of 35, are single and do not live with any dependants (children), you can only get the LHA shared room rate. However, if one of the following exemptions apply, you may still be entitled to the one bedroom LHA rate.

When the rules don't apply

We will not have to use the shared accommodation rate for some single people under 35. The rules will not apply to you if:

  • Someone else (for example, a partner, child, elderly relative, friend or grown-up child) lives with you as part of your household
  • You rent from a housing association or the council
  • You live in supported housing provided by a housing association, registered charity or voluntary organisation and get a package of care or support from your landlord (or from somebody else on behalf of your landlord)
  • Your private tenancy began before January 1989
  • You are severely disabled and get the middle or higher rate care component of disability living allowance, the daily living component of Personal Independence Payment at either the standard or enhanced rate or you are in receipt of the Armed Forces Independent Payment
  • You need an extra bedroom for a carer who doesn't live with you but who provides you with overnight care
  • You are aged under 22 and have been in the care of a local authority since the age of 16, or have been accommodated by a local authority since the age of 16
  • You have lived in a hostel for homeless people or a hostel that provides rehabilitation and resettlement within the community for at least three months. You must have received resettlement support to help you live in the community
  • You are an ex-offender and your housing has been arranged for you through multi agency public protection arrangements (MAPPA) for managing the risk posed by sexual and violent offenders

Local Housing Allowance Room Rates

April 2020 rates
Room category Ashford BRMA [86] per week/month Canterbury BRMA [15] per week/month High Weald BRMA [83] per week/month
Category A: shared £78.00 / £338.93 £78.59/ £341.49 £100.11 / £435.00
Category B: 1 bedroom £143.84 / £625.02 £136.93 / £549.99 £159.95 / £695.02
Category C: 2 bedrooms  £168.00 / £730.00 £182.96 / £795.00 £207.12 / £899.99
Category D: 3 bedrooms £207.12 / £899.99 £224.38 / £974.98 £260.05 / £1129.98
Category E: 4 bedrooms £260.05 / £1129.98 £287.67 / £1249.99 £345.21 /  £1500.02

Additional bedroom for non-resident overnight carers

A bedroom that is used by a carer (or team of carers) who provides overnight care for you but who doesn't actually live in your home, may be taken into account when working out how much housing benefit you have to pay, if the room is used for the sole purpose of an overnight carer.

Additional bedroom for severely disabled persons

For people with severe disabilities who are unable to share a bedroom, the local authority may allow an extra bedroom under Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rules, and under the Social Rented Sector Size Criteria Restrictions. Each case will be considered individually, and the local authority must be satisfied that this is the case.

For example, a claim must be supported by:

  • medical evidence
  • proof of Disability Living Allowance (care) at either the middle or high rate for the person
  • details of the nature of the disability
  • the type and frequency of care that is required during the night

If you wish to apply for an extra bedroom allowance because of these circumstances, please complete an extra bedroom provision due to a disabled person application form [docx] 36KB.

The local authority cannot allow an extra bedroom under these rules for any other circumstances. For example, an extra room cannot be allowed for equipment connected with a disability.