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How to Claim

If you are a private tenant, renting property or a room from a private landlord and you are on a low income, you may be able to claim and receive Local Housing Allowance (LHA).

How do I claim?

You may also claim as part of another claim for a separate government benefit, allowance or Pension Credit.

Local Housing Allowance (LHA)

LHA is a way of calculating Housing Benefit. The calculation is based on the area in which you live and the number of bedrooms your personal circumstances require. It ensures that tenants in similar circumstances, residing in the same area and receiving the same amount of financial support and receive a consistent amount towards their housing costs.

As the LHA is based on your housing needs (rather than your actual housing costs), you can decide if you want to rent a property where the rent is above or below your LHA rate.

Where the rent is more than your LHA rate, you would be required to pay the difference between your assessed LHA rate and your actual rental liability.

Who does Local Housing Allowance apply to?

LHA applies to:

  • Claimants who claimed for the first time after the 7th April 2008;
  • Claimants who have changed address after the 7th April 2008; (Please note that this also includes people who have changed rooms within the same property) Claimants who are reclaiming after a gap in their claim of at least one week;
  • LHA does not apply to:
  • Existing Housing Benefit claimants (who do not fall under any of the above);
  • Tenants of Housing Associations or other Social / Charitable Landlords;
  • Council Tenants;
  • Tenants who live in Hostels (NACRO )/ Houseboats / Mobile Homes or Caravans;
  • Tenants whose tenancy began before 1989;
  • Tenants whose rent includes a substantial element of Board / Lodging;
  • Tenants in shared ownerships;
  • Any letting that is 'exempt' accommodation; (where the care, support or supervision provided by the Landlord and is on a more than 'minimal' basis)
  • All 'non-LHA' tenants will continue to be assessed under the 'pre LHA' Housing Benefit scheme.

Who decides Local Housing Allowance rates?

The LHA rates are decided by the Rent Officer. This was also the case with the 'pre April 2008' Rent Officer Decisions. The Rent Officer will set the rates annually each April, taking into account the Consumer Price Index (CPI) when determining the forthcoming years rates. The figures are then passed through to us to advertise to our customers and to use in the assessment of claims.

How much Local Housing Allowance will I receive?

The amount of LHA you receive is determined by:

  • The area you live in, this is known as the Broad Marker Rental Area (BRMA);
  • Who lives in your House with you, known as the size criteria.

You can find out which BRMA your property is located in by visiting the online Local Housing Rates form (.pdf | 400kb). You can also calculate your 'size criteria'.

Are there any 'caps' on Local Housing Allowance?

Central Government have introduced 'caps' to the amount of LHA from the 1st April 2011 and the government website will provide you more information on this. This means that no area in the UK will receive LHA rates above the following:

  • £295.49 per week for a one bedroom property (shared facilities)
  • £295.95 per week for a one bedroom property (exclusive use of facilities)
  • £365.92 per week for a two bedroom property
  • £441.86 per week for a three bedroom property
  • £593.75 per week for a four bedroom property

Current Local Housing Allowance Rates

LHA rates are frozen for a period of one year and reviewed annually in line with the Consumer Price Index (CPI). This will replace the previous requirement to review the LHA amount used for each individual based on their unique annual anniversary date. This date was previously determined based on their date of claim, date they changed address or the date there was a significant change in their household circumstances.