Local Housing Allowance (LHA)

Q. Does LHA apply to all tenancies?

No, the the following tenants are NOT affected by the LHA scheme

  • Registered social landlord tenancies e.g. Council or Housing  Associations
  • Protected cases, such as tenancies provided by a charity or voluntary body who also provide support services
  • Tenancies which are excluded from the existing rent restrictions, such as pre 1989 tenancies
  • Tenancies of caravans, houseboats, mobile homes and hostels
  • Board and lodge accommodation where The Rent Service (TRS) has decided that a substantial part of the rent is attributable to board and attendance.

This is NOT a full list of all the tenancy types that are exempt from the new Local Housing Allowance scheme.

Q. How is the LHA rate (Maximum Eligible Rent) be calculated?

The Rent Service (TRS) will provide the Council with the Local Housing Allowance every April. A rate will be set for each Broad Market Rental Area there will be rates set from shared-accommodation (also referred to as single room rate) up to and including a 4 bedroom rate. The rate you are entitled to will depend on who lives with you. The Local Housing Allowance figure will be the Maximum Eligible Rent figure used to calculate entitlement for Housing Benefit.

Please note that other benefit rules regarding income, capital and members of the household will continue to apply to the final calculation of your Housing Benefit claim to arrive at your level of entitlement.

Q. What is a Broad Rental Market Area (BRMA)?

The BRMA is an area defined by The Rent Service (TRS) and is an area of residential accommodation within which a person could move and still have access to similar services of a similar standard. South Cambridgeshire District Council has three BRMA's, CAMBRIDGE, HUNTINGDON  and STEVENAGE + NORTH HERTS, most of the propertes are within the Cambridge BRMA.  

Q. How many rooms will I be entitled to claim for?

This will depend on the number of people who live with you.
For example a single person under 35 will only be entitled to the LHA 'shared' room rate (Maximum Eligible Rent) figure. If you are 35 or over, with or without a partner and have no children then you will be entitled to the 'shared' rate if you live in shared accommodation or the one bedroom rate if you live in self-contained accommodation.

If you and your partner (if you have one) live in shared accommodation whereby you have sole use of two or more rooms in that property you will also be entitled to the one bedroom rate.


For everyone else with children, non-dependants, boarders and lodgers the LHA rate (Maximum Eligible Rent) is based upon the number of bedrooms you are allowed.

The Regulations allow for one bedroom for each of the following:-

  • Every adult couple
  • Any other adult aged 16 or over
  • Any two children of the same sex up to and including age 15
  • Any two children regardless of sex under age 10
  • Any other child
  • non-resident overnight carer (or team of carers) who provides for the claimant or their partner
  • disabled children may be allowed a separate room if necessary
  •  parents of armed forces personnel who continue to live at home but who are deployed will be allowed to retain that adult child's bedroom
  •  one additional room will be allowed for foster children

IMPORTANT - The following are NOT included as part of the family/household unit when calculating the appropriate numbers of bedrooms needed.

  • Foster children (however one additional room will be allowed for a foster child or children living with an approved foster carer)
  • Dependent children who do NOT live with the parent/guardian for the majority of the time
  • Joint Tenant(s) whom are not tenants in common.    

N.B. The number of living rooms, kitchens, bathrooms and other rooms is ignored for the purpose of deciding the appropriate LHA figure (Maximum Eligible Rent)
Example 1. Single person Under 35 years of age in self-contained accommodation = Shared Accommodation Rate

Example 2. Single person or couple of any age in shared accommodation where he/she only has the sole use of one room and shares all other rooms = Shared rate

Example 3. Single person Under 35 years of age in shared or self contained accommodation who is entitled to the Severe Disability Premium = One bedroom

Example 4. Single person who is 35 years of age or more or a couple of any age in self contained accommodation or shared accommodation where the single person/couple has the sole use of two or more rooms = One Bedroom

Example 5. Couple, with two boys under sixteen years of age = Two bedrooms

Example 6. Lone parent, with a ten year old girl and a nine year old boy = Three bedrooms

Example 7. Couple with two boys, one aged sixteen, the other aged seven and twin girls aged fourteen = Four Bedrooms

Example 8. Lone parent with twin boys aged sixteen, plus a boy aged five, plus a girl aged eleven = Four bedrooms

Q. What happens if my Contractual Rent is less than the LHA (Maximum Eligible Rent) figure?

The contractual rent will become the maximum rent

If the contractual rent is higher than the appropriate LHA (Maximum Eligible Rent) figure, the tenant is responsible for paying any shortfall. However, in exceptional circumstances there may be extra help available through the Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) fund.

Please note that other benefit rules regarding income, capital and members of the household will continue to apply to the final calculation of your Housing Benefit claim to arrive at your level of entitlement.

 Q. You said the Rent Service would provide LHA figure for up to FOUR bedrooms, what if I qualify for more than 4 bedrooms?

The four bedroom LHA rate will only apply

 Q. Will I be allowed additional rooms in determining the LHA figure (Maximum Eligible Rent) if I have a disability or some other reason for needing extra space?

No, you will only be entitled to the number of bedrooms allowed under the LHA scheme rules.  However, if you have a child who requires their own bedroom due to disability, as deemed by this authority, you will be entitled to an additional bedroom up to the maximum of the four bedroom rate

Q. How will service charges affect my claim?

Under the LHA scheme to determine the Maximum Eligible Rent figure that is used as part of the calculation for benefit, no deduction will be made from the Maximum Eligible Rent figure in respect of ineligible service charges such as Water, Heating, etc that are included in your Contractual Rent.

 

Q. How will Board and Attendance cases be treated?

If a claim for Housing Benefit that comes under the LHA scheme is made on a tenancy that has Board included, then the Council must refer the case to The Rent Service (TRS). The Rent Service will then decide if the Board is a substantial part of the tenancy. If they decide that it is, then the claim will be dealt with under the OLD Housing Benefit rules using the Rent Officer's decision in the benefit calculation. If the Rent Officer decides that Board is not a substantial part of the rent then the Maximum Eligible Rent figure for the Housing Benefit claim will be calculated under the LHA scheme.

 

Q. Under the LHA scheme, how long will the Maximum Eligible Rent figure be applied to my claim when calculating Housing Benefit?

Normally, the maximum eligible rent figure shall apply for the remaining part of the financial year and shall be reviewed at the following 1st April.

 

Q. What happens if my landlord increases my rent?

Nothing.  however, if after the rent has been increased it is still below the LHA rate then that rent increase will be reflected immediately with a new maximum eligible rent figure.

 

Q. What happens if someone moves in or moves out of the property?

You must notify the Housing Benefit office immediately as this may change the number of bedrooms used to determine the Maximum Eligible Rent for your claim under the LHA scheme.

 

Q. What happens if my circumstances change during the year?

If you have a change of circumstances that affects the appropriate number of bedrooms you are allowed, then the LHA figure (Maximum Eligible Rent) can be changed. The new LHA figure (Maximum Eligible Rent) will continue for the remainder of the financial year and will be reviewed at the following 1st April.

 

Q. What will happen if I move home?

If you move home then you may have to complete a new Housing Benefit claim form. The new LHA figure (Maximum Eligible Rent) will depend on the area you move to and the number of Bedrooms you are allowed. The appropriate LHA figure (Maximum Eligible Rent) will normally be applied from the date your claim form is received by the Council or the date of the actual change.

 

Q. Will you tell my landlord I am claiming benefit?

The Council will not talk to your landlord about your claim unless you have given permission to do so. However if you 8 weeks or more in arrears with your rent, the landlord has the right to ask for direct payments of Housing Benefit and in those circumstances the Council would confirm to the landlord the amount of Housing Benefit you are entitled to.

  

Local Housing Allowance (LHA) scheme & Vulnerable Tenants

Under the LHA scheme, Housing Benefit will normally be paid to the tenant. However we can pay Housing Benefit to the landlord if we decide a tenant is deemed vulnerable or it would be in the tenants best interest to make direct payments to safeguard the tenancy.

 

Q. What do we mean by 'vulnerable'?

By vulnerable we mean someone who may have difficulty managing their money or has a personal or medical condition that affects their ability to physically pay the rent to their landlord. This description of a vulnerable person does NOT relate to someone refusing to pay his or her rent.

 

Q. Who decides who is vulnerable?

The Council decides if a tenant is vulnerable. We must have evidence that the tenant cannot manage their money or they have personal or medical difficulties. Evidence must usually be in writing. People who can give evidence include:

  • The tenant
  • Friends and family of the tenant
  • The landlord
  • Welfare Groups (including money advisers)
  • Social Services
  • GP
  • Probation Officers
  • Jobcentre Plus or The Pension Service

We will work with the tenant in making our decision.

 

Q. Who might be vulnerable?

There are many reasons why someone cannot manage their money. A vulnerable tenant may be someone who:

  • Has severe debt problems
  • Has a recent County Court Judgment against them
  • Is an un-discharged bankrupt
  • Is unable to open a bank or building society account
  • Has some of their Income Support or Jobseeker's Allowance paid direct to the gas, electricity or water company by DWP
  • Is getting 'Supporting People' help

We may look into whether a tenant is vulnerable or not if the tenant:

  • Has learning difficulties
  • Has an illness that stops them managing on a day-to-day basis
  • Cannot read or speak English
  • Is addicted to drugs, alcohol or gambling
  • Is homeless.

There may be other reasons why someone may be deemed vulnerable. If you require more information please write to Housing Benefits Office, South Cambs Hall, Cambourne Business Park, Cambourne, CB23 6EA.

Making a decision

Once we have collected evidence we will decide as quickly as possible if a tenant is vulnerable. We will normally pay Housing Benefit to the tenant while we are waiting for information to make our decision. We will tell a tenant if they are deemed vulnerable for the purposes of paying Housing Benefit directly to their Landlord. We will also write to the tenant and explain the decision.

Reviews and appeals
If the tenant or landlord disagrees with our decision then they can ask us to look at our decision again (this is known as a review or reconsideration), or to appeal against it. Any such request or appeal must be made in writing and be received by us within one month of the date of our decision. In exceptional circumstances, an appeal may be made more than one month after the date of our decision. Please contact us if you have any queries about making an appeal.

Money Advice
Tenants can get advice on how to manage their money from banks, building societies or a welfare organisation such as the Citizens Advice Bureau.

This guide is intended to provide basic information for persons claiming Housing Benefit.

View the monthly table showing the bedroom rate that applies to you.

If you have a specific question about LHA please e-mail benefits@scambs.gov.uk

Visit The Rent Service (TRS) website.

Contact Details

03450 450 061