How Housing Benefit is calculated
Housing benefit is paid by the local authority council to help you pay their rent. There are many rules about how much housing benefit you can get. They can be complicated but here we give you a brief outline of the basics.
You should be aware that in most cases, if you claim housing benefit and you rent from a private landlord, the amount you get will probably be calculated using the local housing allowance (LHA) rules.
Does LHA apply to you?
LHA began in April 2008 and now applies to most new claims by private tenants. However, there are some exceptions. If you were already claiming housing benefit when LHA was introduced in your area, you may continue to receive housing benefit for a while, but your claim will be switched LHA when you make a new claim, change address, or your circumstances change. LHA does not apply to council tenants, or those renting from a housing association.
How is this local housing allowance (LHA) calculated?
Believe it or not the rules for calculating housing benefits are very complicated! LHA is designed to simplify the process of making a claim by introducing a 'standard local rent' which is set according to: the number of rooms you need and how much rent private landlords charge for similar properties in your area.
The maximum number of bedrooms that it is possible to make a claim for is five.
You can find out find out what the standard local amount for a particular type of property in your area at thecurrent Local Housing Allowance Rates.
You will be assessed for LHA as needing a bedroom for each of the following that you have in your household: adult couple, other adult aged over 16 or over and any two children of the same sex up to the age of 16, any two children regardless of sex under the age of 10 , or any other child.
The LHA payments can cover your rent and some service charges, if you have to pay them in order to continue living in the property but not for heating and lighting etc
In most cases, local housing allowance is paid directly to the person who claims it, however, the council can make the payments direct to your landlord if: you have rent arrears of eight weeks or more or you are already getting deductions from your income support, jobseekers' allowance or employment support allowance to pay for rent arrears. The council also can also decide to pay your local housing allowance direct to your landlord if they think you are likely to have problems paying your rent. They may decide that this is the case if: you have learning disabilities, you have a serious medical condition , you cannot read or write and/or do not speak English , you have had problems with drugs, alcohol or gambling in the past or even if you get your tenancy with help from the council – e.g. if it was arranged by the council after you applied as homeless or in order to prevent you from becoming homeless.