Local Housing Allowance
Local Housing Allowance (LHA) is the name for housing benefit for tenants of privately rented accommodation.
LHA is a flat rate allowance towards rent costs, calculated on the basis of the circumstances of the tenant (such as family size) and the broad area they live in. The scheme has been designed to pay the same amount to tenants with similar circumstances living in the same area.
If your rent is less than the 'Valuation Office determined' LHA for the type of property you need, your claim will be assessed on your rental liability, not the LHA amount. If your rent is more than the LHA you will normally have to pay the extra yourself.
You will not be affected by these changes if:
you rent your property from the Council
your landlord is a housing association
your rent has been registered as a 'fair rent'
your tenancy started before 1989
you live somewhere where you are provided with care, support or supervision
you live in a caravan, mobile home or house boat.
The allowances are set by the Valuation Office yearly in April and are available below, as well as being published in the Council and Citizens Advice Bureau offices. Historically, the allowances were set by The Valuation Office each month but the Government announced that Local Housing Allowance rates would be frozen from 1 April 2012.
This will end the monthly uprating of Local Housing Allowance rates and move to annual rates, thus bringing the system in line with the uprating of other pensions and benefits.
These allowances are the maximum amounts that customers will be entitled to, unless their rent is lower, depending on income, savings and circumstances. The claim is based on the rate applicable when the claim is made and will be reviewed every April unless there is a change in circumstances, for example:
if there was a change in the number of household members
if there is a death in the household
if the tenant has changed address.
if the rent increases or decreases
Unless a claimant is:
vulnerable and cannot manage their financial affairs,
unlikely to pay their rent and have previously been in arrears,
have rent arrears of eight weeks or more.
LHA is paid directly to the tenant's bank account rather than the landlord's. LHA cannot be paid into a Post Office Card Account like some other benefits.
Information on how to apply for payments to be made to the landlord can be found further down this page.
The following map shows the two LHA areas that Guildford Borough Council is divided into.
Local Housing Allowance rates
|Number of rooms||Category|
Maximum weekly amount
The LHA that is used to work out your benefit will depend on how many people are in your household.
Allow one bedroom for
- every adult couple (married or unmarried)
- any other adult aged 16 or over
- any two children, of the same sex, aged under 16
- any two children, regardless of sex, aged under 10
- any other child (other than a child whose main home is elsewhere)
- a non-resident overnight carer
- a foster child or children living with an approved foster carer
- adult children who are in the armed forces but who continue to live with parents, will be treated as continuing to live at home, when deployed on operations
- disabled child who cannot share a bedroom
Subject to a maximum allowance of 4 bedrooms from April 2011.
The number of living rooms, kitchen and bathrooms is ignored for the purpose of this calculation, as it is assumed that all tenants are entitled to these.
Single people under 35
People who are single and under 35 are classed as 'young individuals' and are only entitled to a shared room rate of LHA.
A young individual is classed as someone who is under 35 and:
- is not a member of a couple,
- is not a lone parent,
- is not entitled to the Severe Disability Premium within the LHA calculation,
- is not under the age of 22 and subject to a care order,
- has no non-dependants in their household
- does not require an additional room for a non-resident carer
- is not an ex-offender under MAPPA
- has not spent 3 months+ in a homeless hostel, or more than one hostel, specialising in rehabilitating and resettling into the community.
Single people 35 and over, and childless couples
Single claimants 35 and over and childless couples will qualify for the one bedroom rate but only if they actually rent a one bedroom property or rent one room with self contained bathroom and toilet facilities, for example, studio flat.
If they decide to rent a shared property, they will qualify for the shared room rate of Local Housing Allowance.
A shared property is one where a person has shared use of a bathroom/toilet and or kitchen.
|Single under 35 year old (shared/self contained accommodation)||Shared Accommodation|
|Single over 35 (shared accommodation)||Shared Accommodation|
|Couple under/over 25 (shared accommodation)||Shared Accommodation|
|Single over 35 (self contained)||1 bedroom|
|Couple under/over 25 (self contained)||1 bedroom|
|Single parent, 1 child (shared accommodation)||2 bedrooms|
|Couple, 1 child||2 bedrooms|
|Single parent, 2 children under 10||2 bedrooms|
|Couple, 2 children same sex over 10 under 16||2 bedrooms|
|Couple, 1 foster child||2 bedrooms|
|Single parent, 1 boy under 10, 1 girl over 10||3 bedrooms|
|Couple, 1 child under 16, 1 child over 16||3 bedrooms|
|Couple, 2 children same sex under 10, 1 child over 10||3 bedrooms|
|Single parent, 2 children same sex over 10, 1 child over 16||3 bedrooms|
|Couple, 1 foster child, overnight care required||3 bedrooms|
|Couple, 1 boy over 16, 2 foster children of opposite sex aged 11 & 13||3 bedrooms (only one extra bedroom allowed for foster children)|
|Single parent, 1 girl under 10, 1 boy over 10, 1 girl over 16||4 bedrooms|
|Couple, 2 children under 10, 2 children same sex over 10, 1 other adult||4 bedrooms|
|Couple, 1 boy under 10, 1 girl over 10,1 boy over 16, 1 girl over 16||5 bedrooms restricted to maximum of 4 bedrooms|
You can obtain further details by visiting the online bedroom calculator.
In order to protect vulnerable customers, we will use our discretion in deciding whether Housing Benefit should be paid to the landlord as opposed to the customer. The following criteria will be considered when deciding to whom benefit should be paid.
Aims and objectives
- Protection for the most vulnerable customers, providing reassurance that their rent will be paid.
- To help prevent rent arrears and customers being put at risk of eviction.
- To reassure landlords that rent charged will be paid if they have vulnerable customers or are approached by vulnerable customers.
- To help put customers in touch with other agencies/support groups where they are given the support to manage their own affairs.
- To ensure council officials make fair, responsible and consistent decisions.
- To promote and publicize a process which is widely understood.
- To treat each case independently and on its own merits.
The customer or customers' representative makes us aware that they would prefer their LHA to be paid to the landlord. The request needs to be supported with written evidence from a third party. Information and evidence will be considered from, amongst others:
- Social services
- Reputable financial institutions
- Support or advisory services, for example, Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB)
Evidence from a landlord cannot be accepted alone.
Making a decision
The manager of the Housing Benefits service will make the decision on each case. The decision will be made on the basis of having regard to all of the available facts. In all cases one of two decisions will be made:
- The customer is vulnerable and payment of LHA will be made to the landlord, or
- The customer is not vulnerable and payment of LHA will be made to the customer.
Notifying affected parties
The customer and/or their representative will be written to and advised of the following:
- The decision and reasons for it.
- If and when the decision will be reviewed.
- Appeal rights.
- Advice agencies, voluntary or statutory organisations which will be able to help.
- Contact details for the CAB money advice service if they do not have a bank account.
The landlord will also be written to and advised:
- If the tenant has been found vulnerable and we will pay them, the landlord, LHA up to the contractual rent.
- If and when the decision will be reviewed.
- Request bank details if not previously received.
- If the tenant has been found not to be vulnerable, the landlords' appeal right against this decision.