Local Housing Allowance
Local housing allowance (LHA) is the way of working out housing benefit for people who live in privately rented accommodation.
LHA is a flat rate allowance based on the size of the household (not the size of the property) and the area in which a person lives.
Each local authority is divided into Broad Rental Market Areas (BRMA). The council has 3 Broad Market Rental Areas. The Rent Service sets individual local housing allowance rates for up to a maximum of 4 rooms in each of the BRMA areas.
If a customer finds a property that they like with a rent that exceeds their LHA they will need to make up the difference themselves. But if a customer finds somewhere with a rent below their allowance, we will only pay LHA up to the amount of rent they have to pay.
Payments are normally paid to the customer rather than the landlord. Safeguards are put in place to protect the vulnerable.
We will consider whether:
- the customer has difficulty managing their affairs
- it is improbable that the customer would pay their rent
If a customer and their representative feel they are vulnerable, benefit may be paid to the landlord. An application for payment of LHA to your landlord form will need to be filled in and supporting proof provided.
Benefit can still be paid to the landlord if a tenant falls into arrears of 8 weeks or more. Written proof of arrears will be required. Landlords should make sure they keep detailed records of the rent account.
In certain circumstances we may be able to make payments directly to a landlord if the council considers it will assist the customer to secure a new tenancy or retain an existing tenancy. For a tenancy to be secured or retained, the rent should be affordable to the tenant whilst in receipt of housing benefit, that is, at the new level of the LHA rate that applies to the tenant.