If your tenant claims Universal Credit, their rent costs will be included in that claim. They won't be able to get Housing Benefit as well.

See Universal Credit and rented housing: a guide for landlords from Gov.uk for more information.

Local Housing Allowance (LHA) is used to work out Housing Benefit for private renters.

LHA doesn't affect tenants in council or social housing, or tenants who have been getting Housing Benefit continuously since before April 2008. 

It's a flat rate allowance, based on the area the property is in and who lives in the property. Rates are set for different sizes of family ranging from a single room in a shared house up to properties with four bedrooms.

The maximum LHA rate is for four bedrooms.

A benefit calculation starts with your tenant's LHA rate, but the actual amount payable will be affected by:

  • Any money they have coming in
  • Any savings they have
  • If we expect anyone living with them to pay towards the rent
  • If they share payment of the rent with someone else, who isn't their partner.

LHA doesn't affect:

  • Council landlords
  • Tenants of registered providers of social housing
  • Tenants who claim Universal Credit, as their award includes help with their rent
  • Some supported housing (exempt accommodation)
  • Tenancies which started before January 1989
  • Tenancies in caravans, mobile homes, houseboats and hostels
  • Tenancies where the Rent Officer has decided that a substantial part of the rent is for board and attendance.

How do I find LHA rates for my property?

View LHA rates here. Remember that the rate for your property will vary, based on the make-up of the family you let to.

How often do LHA rates change?

Rates are reviewed each April. Once we've made a decision on a claim, the LHA rate isn't usually looked at again until the following April.  The new rate could stay the same, be lower or be higher.

But if your tenant has a change of circumstances, a new LHA rate could apply.

Examples of changes include:

  • Moving home
  • A change in the number of the people living with them
  • Their LHA rate changes because of a change in their age or the age of someone in their family.

What if my tenant’s rent is more than their LHA rate?

If your tenant's rent is more than the LHA rate, they'll need to use other money they have coming in to make up the difference.

For example, if their rent is £110 and their LHA rate is £100, their maximum benefit would be £100. They would have to pay the remaining £10 themselves.

Who is benefit paid to?

In most cases we'll pay your tenant. They can then set up a standing order to pay the rent to you.

Can I get payments from you directly?

If your tenant is eight weeks or more in arrears with their rent, we can pay you directly.

We can also decide to pay you directly if we think:

  • Your tenant might have trouble managing their money
  • Your tenant is unlikely to pay their rent or
  • If direct payments will help your tenant to secure or maintain their tenancy.

Contact us if you think that your tenant will have trouble paying, or that they can't deal with their own finances. The tenant or someone acting for them can also ask for direct payments because of this.

If you think your tenant might not pay their rent, we'll need to see proof of past, or likely, failure to pay. We'll look at any information that we have, including any known history, when making our decision.

It's important that you keep proper records of rent payments made and details of any contact with your tenant.

If you make direct payments to me, how long will they go on for?

Where your tenant has difficulty paying their rent and their situation is not likely to change, we may pay benefit to you long-term.

But where the situation is temporary, or where your tenant pays off their rent arrears, then we'll review things. If your tenant is in a better position to have their benefit paid to themselves, and to pay their rent in full and on time, we'll stop the direct payments.

Can I make direct payments a condition of the tenancy?

No - as we aren't involved in the tenancy agreement between you and your tenant, and can't be bound by any conditions in that agreement. We can't pay benefit directly to a landlord at the tenant’s request and you can't change this by making direct payments a condition of the tenancy.

What appeal rights do I have?

You have the right to appeal against a decision not to make direct payments to you.

But you can't appeal against the amount of your tenant's benefit award.

Where to get more information

If you want to know more about Housing Benefit and LHA, please contact us.

Remember that this information is for guidance only. It isn't meant to say exactly what your legal rights are. Whilst we have tried to make sure that the information is current and correct, it is possible that there may be out of date or incorrect information, or that some ideas may be oversimplified.

Last updated: Fri 14 January, 2022 @ 14:07