From April 2008 the Government has changed the way we work out and pay housing benefit for some private tenants . By 'private tenant' we mean somebody who rents their home from a private landlord.
Local Housing Allowance (LHA) helps with the cost of rent and will take the place of housing benefit for some private tenants. It is a fixed rate based on the number of bedrooms you need, not how much the rent is. The amount of Local Housing Allowance you will get will depend upon your income, capital and your household composition.
The Rent Service decides the rate of allowance. The Rent Service is part of the Housing Directorate within the Welsh Government.
Who is Local Housing Allowance for?
Local Housing Allowance is for private tenants who:
- move home on or after Monday 7 April 2008; or
- make a new claim for housing benefit on or after Monday 7 April 2008
Who cannot get Local Housing Allowance?
You cannot get Local Housing Allowance if:
- you are a private tenant who is already getting housing benefit (unless you move or have a break in your claim, on or after Monday 7 April 2008);
- you are a council tenant;
- you are a tenant of a Housing Association or Registered Social Landlord;
- you are living in bed and breakfast accommodation;
- you live in a caravan, mobile home or houseboat;
- your tenancy started before 15 January 1989; or
- you live somewhere where you are provided with care, support or supervision.
How much Local Housing Allowance will I get?
Your Local Housing Allowance will depend on:
- who lives with you;
- the number of bedrooms you and your family need; and
- any savings or money you may have coming in.
Once you've worked out how many bedrooms you qualify for you can find out what your LHA rate is. Previously the rates were updated monthly but, due to legislative changes, from April 2012 the rates will be updated annually.
The current Local Housing Allowance Rates are available to download below:
Local Housing Allowance Rates - April 2012 to April 2013 (PDF 77kb)
Local Housing Allowance Rates - April 2013 to April 2014 (PDF 77kb)
But remember, the LHA amount is not necessarily what you will receive each week. This is the amount we use as the starting point in the assessment process.
The Rent Service will review the local housing allowance rates annually and supply the council with an updated list. The Rent Service is not part of the council but part of the Housing Directorate of the Welsh Government.
The number of bedrooms you need
The rules say how many bedrooms you and your family need. You will need one bedroom for each of the following residents, but please note that there is a maximum permitted number of five bedrooms irrespective of your actual household make-up:
- every adult couple;
- any other adult aged 16 years or over;
- any two children of the same sex aged under 16 years;
- any two children regardless of their sex aged under 10 years; or
- any other child aged under 16 years.
People under 35 years
From 1 January 2012, if you are single, under the age of 35 years and Local Housing Allowance applies to you, you will only qualify for the Local Housing Allowance rate for shared accommodation.
The rate for shared accommodation is based on the tenant having sole use of a bedroom or bedsit and shared use of some or all the facilities, for example, a kitchen, living room or bathroom and toilet.
This rule will not apply, however, if;
- you have a partner; or
- you are getting child benefit for a child in your care; or
- you qualify for certain disability benefits.
How is Local Housing Allowance paid?
Local Housing Allowance is usually paid to you and not to your landlord. In some very special cases we may pay it to your landlord, for example, if;
- we think that you are likely to have difficulty managing your own affairs;
- we think that you are unlikely to use your Local Housing Allowance to pay your rent;
- you have built up 8 weeks or more rent arrears; or
- you are having deductions made from your Income Support, Job Seekers' Allowance or Guarantee Credit to pay off rent arrears
However, you can now pay your rent through the Smart Money Credit Union. See below for further details.
Paying your rent through Smart Money Credit Union
If you are a private tenant and receive Local Housing Allowance you can now have your rent paid directly to your landlord through the Smart Money Credit Union. Both you and your landlord will need to complete the registration form below and then your landlord needs to return the completed form to the Smart Money Credit Union office at the address shown on the form.
Smart Money Credit Union (PDF 183kb)
Landlord Registration Form (PDF 108kb)
How long will my Local Housing Allowance last for?
Once your Local Housing Allowance has been calculated it will be reviewed on 1 April each year unless a review is triggered by one of the following:
- a change in your circumstances which affects the category of the dwelling you are entitled to, for example, a child sharing a bedroom reaches 16 years old, someone joins or leaves the household and this changes the number of bedrooms you need;
- a death in the household; or
- a change of address.
What do I need to do?
At the moment you do not need to do anything. If you are already getting housing benefit this will not affect you unless you are a private tenant and you;
- move house
- have a break in your housing benefit of at least a week; or
- make a new claim on or after 7 April 2008
These pages are intended as a guide only and cannot cover every situation or eventuality. It should not therefore be treated as a full and authoritative statement of the law.
If you require any further information or advice about LHA that have not been addressed on these pages, contact the benefits section on 01443 866567 during office hours or email email@example.com.
You could also get advice from other organisations such as the Citizens Advice Bureau or Shelter Cymru.