For private tenants, other than those who rent from a housing association, the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) is the maximum rent figure to be used in the calculation of housing benefit.
The Rent Officer Service issue maximum rent levels for all sizes of properties in a given area and housing benefit claims are assessed on a set amount, the Local Housing Allowance.
The Local Housing Allowance amount depends on the number of bedrooms required by the claimant's household – this is called the size criteria.
Broad Rental Market Areas (BMRAs)
The Rent Service has divided the country into Broad Rental Market Areas (BRMAs).
There is only one BRMA in Caerphilly and the Rent Service has issued the following LHA amounts. These amounts are now fixed for twelve months from 1 April 2013:
|Category Type||LHA for BRMA (£ per week)|
The LHA amount used in the calculation is valid for 12 months from the 1 April 2013 or until the claimant has a change of circumstance that affects the bedroom requirements.
The LHA amount is now reviewed annually on the 1 April each year.
The size criteria
One bedroom is allowed for each of the following:
- a couple
- someone who is 16 or over
- two children of the same sex until they are 16
- two children who are younger than 10
- any other child (other than a foster child or child whose main home is elsewhere)
- a carer (or group of carers) providing overnight care
Each person is counted once in the first group that they would come into. Not everyone in the house is counted when working out the number of bedrooms required.
The tenant and their partner are counted as well as any children or young people they are responsible for.
If the tenant has any other adults who are not boarders or lodgers, they are counted. Joint tenants are not counted.
A recent announcement by the Government has introduced two changes across both the private and social rented sectors. These relate to two specific groups and apply from the 1 April 2013:
- An additional room will be allowed for a foster child or children living with an approved foster carer
- Parents of armed forces personnel who are away from home on operations will continue to have them included when applying the size criteria
Another separate announcement by the Government means that local councils can allow an extra bedroom for children who are unable to share because of their severe disabilities.
The LHA amount for shared accommodation applies to people that live in non self- contained accommodation, e.g. a single claimant lives in a room with shared use of a kitchen, living room or bathroom. This rate will apply to:
- single claimants under the age of 35 – this is a legislative change from the 1 January 2012 and is regardless of the type of accommodation that they live in;
- childless couples if they live in non self contained accommodation;
- joint tenants if they share part of the accommodation, e.g. shared use of the kitchen.
This rate will not apply to:
- care leavers under 22, or a customer who lives with a care leaver under 22 who is their partner, and they have no dependent children;
- single claimants or couples who have no dependent children and who have the Severe Disability Premium included in the calculation of their benefit.
In these circumstances the one bedroom LHA rate will apply whether or not they share accommodation and regardless of its size.