Local Housing Allowance (LHA) is the new name for housing benefit for tenants in privately rented accommodation. The intention is to simplify the rules and to allow tenants more freedom - both financially, and to choose where they live.
If you are a private tenant i.e. you rent from a private landlord not a housing association there will be a change to how we work out your claim using the new rules if the following changes happen:
If you rent your home privately (e.g. from a landlord) you may qualify for the Local Housing Allowance, except if:
These tenancies will have their benefit assessed under the normal housing benefit rules that applied before the LHA scheme started. Get an estimate of how much you may be entitled to online by going to our benefit calculator at the bottom of this page or phone us on 01795 417555 about making a claim.
The Rent Service will provide us with Local Housing Allowance rates each April. There will be a set of rates ranging from a shared 1-room rate up to a 5-room rate. The rate you are entitled to will depend on who lives with you and where you live.
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 shared rate LHA. If you are over 35 with or without a partner, and you have no children, then you will be entitled to the shared rate if you live in shared accommodation or the 1-room rate if you live in self-contained accommodation.
For everyone else with children or non-dependants then the LHA is based on the number of rooms you are allowed.
One bedroom for:
Note: The number of living rooms, kitchens and bathrooms is ignored for the purpose of the calculation.
The Rent Officer sets the levels of LHA annually for properties of up to four rooms. Even if you need more than four rooms, your allowance will be restricted to the four-bedroom rate.
There are three areas that the levels of LHA are calculated on in Swale. Canterbury, Maidstone and Swale/Medway. To work out which area you live in go to The Local Housing Allowance Rates page or go to the LHA webpage on Department of Work and Pensions.
LHA is not based upon how much rent is actually charged. If the rent is higher than the LHA, the tenant will normally have to pay the extra cost, although in exceptional circumstances there may be extra help available.
If the rent is lower than the LHA, the maximum Housing Benefit payable will be the rent due.
Other benefit rules regarding income, capital, members of the household and rent liability apply in the same way to LHA as to Housing Benefit.
As with Housing Benefit, finding out whether you qualify for Local Housing Allowance, and how much you would get, is more complex than simply answering the questions in Step one and Step two above. For more advice or if you would like to make a claim: