You can claim Housing Benefit under Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rules if you rent from a private landlord and:
- You aren't getting Universal Credit and
- You make a new claim for benefit, or
- You have a break in an old, existing claim, or
- You change address to privately rented accommodation.
You can't get Housing Benefit if you:
- Get Universal Credit, as your award includes help with your rent costs
- Aren't liable to pay rent
- Live with a close relative and pay rent to him or her
- Live in a care home or nursing home
- Rent a former joint home from your ex-partner
- Are the parent or guardian of your landlord's child
- Live in your home as part of your job
- Have savings over £16000 (unless you also get Guarantee Pension Credit)
- Are a full-time student (although certain students, such as those with disabilities or those with children can claim).
LHA doesn't apply if you:
- Pay your rent to a registered social landlord, such as East Midlands Housing Association
- Pay your rent to the council
- Pay a rent that has been registered as a 'fair rent'
- Have a tenancy that began before 1989
- Live in a hostel, caravan, mobile home or houseboat
- Live in accommodation where a large part of your rent is for board and attendance
- Live in supported, exempt accommodation.
In these cases, you can claim Housing Benefit based on the rent you are charged - unless you get Universal Credit.
How do we work out LHA rates?
Each council is divided into Broad Rental Market Areas (BRMA), usually based on postcode and set by the Rent Service.
Each April, Rent Officers set LHA rates for each area.
We publish these figures so that landlords and tenants can find out the amount of rent that LHA will cover.
What is a Broad Rental Market Area?
A Broad Rental Market Area (BRMA) is based on a geographical area and how it accesses services such as hospitals, schools and shopping.
North West Leicestershire District Council falls in to three areas - Leicester, Eastern Staffordshire and Derby.
More information can be found on GOV.UK - Understanding LHA rates.
How are LHA amounts set?
LHA is based on the size of your household and the area you live in (BRMA).
It depends on the number of people who live in your home and the number of bedrooms you need. The maximum number of bedrooms allowed is four.
One bedroom is allowed for:
- Each adult couple (married or unmarried - same or opposite sex)
- Any other person aged 16 or over
- Two children of the same sex
- Two children regardless of sex under the age of 10
- Any other child
- A carer (who doesn't normally live with you) if you or a disabled person living with you needs regular overnight care.
If you're an approved foster carer, you'll be allowed one additional room as long as you have either fostered a child or become an approved foster carer in the last 12 months.
If your adult child (son or daughter, step-son or step-daughter) is in the armed forces, normally lives with you but is away from home on operations, you'll continue to get the extra bedroom allowance for them.
If you and your partner can't share a room because of a disability or medical condition, or if you have a disabled child who can't share a room because of their condition, we can allow an extra room. The disabled person will need to be getting a 'qualifying benefit' - which means the middle or high rate of Disability Living Allowance (care component), Attendance Allowance at the high rate, Personal Independence Payment (Daily Living component) or Armed Forces Independence Payment.
Extra rooms can't be allowed if:
- Your children live somewhere else, but you have a spare room for when they stay with you
- Your home has been adapted to cater for your disability
- You and your partner can't share because of disability or a medical condition, but don't get one of the qualifying benefits shown above.
But in cases of disability, we may be able to give extra help through a Discretionary Housing Payment. You'll need to fill in a form and supply medical evidence to back up your request.
If you make a new claim for benefit, you'll be protected from these size limit rules for the first 13 weeks of your claim if you could previously afford your rent and haven't claimed help with your rent in the last 52 weeks.
This means that your benefit will be based on the full amount of your rent for the first 13 weeks of your claim.
Tenants aged under 35 who live alone
If you're single and under 35 years old, you're entitled to the rate for a room in shared accommodation. By single, we mean someone who isn't living as part of a couple or with dependent children.
The shared accommodation rate is based on the level of local rents for properties that aren't self contained - so with a shared kitchen, bathroom, toilet or living room.
There are certain exceptions to this rule, and you won't be affected if you:
- Are aged under 25 and have been in care. However from age 25 to 34 you'll move on to the shared rate
- Live in supported housing provided by a housing association, registered charity, voluntary organisation or the county council
- Get the severe disability premium in your benefit because you're entitled to the middle or higher rate care component of Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payment (Daily Living)
- Need an extra bedroom for a carer who provides you with regular overnight care but who doesn’t normally live with you
- Are an ex-offender actively managed under the Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements - provided that you're living in a self contained property
- Have been in a homeless hostel specialising in rehabilitation and resettlement for at least three months and have been offered and accepted a support package to rehabilitate you into the community - provided that you're living in a self contained property
- Are a victim of domestic abuse
- Are a victim of modern slavery.
Tenants aged 35 and over who live alone and couples with no dependent children
If you're a single tenant aged 35 years and over, or a couple with no dependent children, you're entitled to the rate for a one-bedroom property as long as you actually rent a property of at least this size (for example a one bedroomed flat).
But if you live in a property where all or some facilities are shared, you'll only get the 'shared room rate'.
How is the LHA rate used to work out my Housing Benefit?
Your maximum benefit is based on the LHA rate that applies to you at the time that you make your claim.
This rate won't usually change until the following April unless there is a change in the number of bedrooms that you need.
This figure is the starting point for your Housing Benefit calculation. Your income, any savings you have and any non-dependants living with you may mean that you won't get the full LHA rate once your award is calculated.
Your rent is £100
Your LHA rate is £85
This means that the maximum benefit you could get is £85 and you would need to pay £15 per week yourself even if you were entitled to full benefit.
Examples - how benefit is calculated.
What if the LHA rate is more than the rent charged?
Your benefit will be calculated on the amount of rent charged.
Your rent is £80
Your LHA rate is £90
Your benefit will be based on £80.
Examples - how benefit is calculated.
Where can I find out about the rates?
From the Valuation Office LHA website. Either look for North West Leicestershire District Council, or search by postcode. The current rates are also shown here.
How do I make a claim?
If you claim Universal Credit, your rent costs will usually be included as part of your claim (although there are some exceptions). You won't be able to claim Housing Benefit as well.
If you're making a claim for Income Support, Employment and Support Allowance or Jobseekers Allowance, the Jobcentre will ask if you would also like to claim Housing Benefit.
They'll normally take details over the phone and complete a form which will then be sent to us for processing.
If you're making a claim for Pension Credit, the Pension Service will ask you about claiming help with you rent.
If you aren't claiming Pension Credit, Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support or Jobseekers Allowance, contact us for a claim form or apply online.
The Housing Benefit page gives full details of how to claim and how your benefit is worked out. The calculation is based on the money you have coming in, your savings and a valid tenancy.
How will I be paid?
Benefit is usually paid into your bank account, and you then arrange to pay your landlord.
What if I have rent arrears?
We'll pay your landlord if proof is provided that you have rent arrears of eight weeks or more.
What if I am unable to cope with paying my rent?
Some people struggle to budget their money, so there are safeguards in place to protect vulnerable tenants.
These safeguards let us pay your Housing Benefit to your landlord in certain circumstances.
Who decides if payment should be made to my landlord?
If you feel that you can't manage your finances, please contact us. We'll need to see some evidence of your problems and then decide if we can pay your landlord directly.
Some examples where we might pay your landlord:
- A medical condition (dementia or terminal illness for example)
- Addiction to drugs, alcohol or gambling
- Leaving prison
- Fleeing domestic violence
- A single person who has recently left Social Services care
- Severe debt problems
- Un-discharged bankruptcy
- Getting help from a homeless charity
- Unable to open a bank account (due to poor credit only).
What happens if I don't have a bank account?
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) pays most benefits directly into a bank account.
If you need help to open a bank account please go to the Money Advice Service website or contact us for advice.
What appeal rights do I have?
You can appeal against:
- The amount of benefit awarded, if you think it's wrong
- Our decision about who we pay benefit to, if you're the person affected by that decision.
You can't appeal against:
- The LHA rates set for your area.
If you want to appeal you must let us know within one month of the decision letter.
You must write down the decision you're appealing against, give the reasons for your appeal and make sure you sign it.
Is any extra help available if I still can't afford my rent?
You may be able to get extra, short-term help through a Discretionary Housing Payment.
Need more information?
Contact us and we'll be pleased to help.
Last updated: Mon 16 January, 2023 @ 15:12