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Housing benefit in the private rented sector has been replaced by the Local Housing Allowance (LHA). LHA makes it your responsibility to pay the rent directly to your landlord.
LHA makes it easier for tenants and landlords to find out in advance how much rent could be covered by way of housing benefit. The amount of LHA still depends on your household income and capital, but the LHA figures determine the rent that the benefit calculation is based upon, and represents the maximum that you could receive.
LHA is based on the rent levels for the area in which you want to live and on the number of people that live with you. There is no change to the entitlement rules as these are still based on a person's income, savings and proof of rent.
How to apply
If you think you may be entitled to LHA you need to complete and return a Benefits Application Form (PDF File, 121kb). You can also pick up a form from any of our local offices. Alternatively, call 01636 650000 or e-mail email@example.com
Changes to Local Housing Allowance from 2011
The Government has introduced legislation that has changed the Local Housing Allowance rules from April 2011.
The Government has also made a change to help disabled people who have a carer who stays overnight but who doesn't normally live with them. The change means that your Local Housing Allowance will take into account the cost of an additional bedroom providing you rent a property which has a bedroom for your carer.
The questions and answers below explain in more detail how the changes are likely to affect your Local Housing Allowance entitlement.
Will I be affected by the changes to Local Housing Allowance rates?
If you are renting from a private landlord and you made your claim for Housing Benefit at your current address on or after the 7 April 2008 it is likely that you will be affected by these changes.
I have been getting Housing Benefit since before April 2008 could the changes affect me?
Providing you continue to live in the same property and you don’t have a break in your housing benefit claim the Local Housing Allowance arrangements will not apply to you
Will I be affected by the caps?
The caps are most likely to affect people who are renting properties in central London boroughs. If your weekly rent is more than the cap for the Local Housing Allowance rate that applies to you, your Local Housing Allowance will be reduced. It is unlikely that the caps will affect people in the Newark and Sherwood District.
How do I know which Local Housing Allowance rate applies to me?
You can use the following information as a guide to work out how many bedrooms you are allowed. You are allowed one bedroom for:
The maximum allowance is for four bedrooms from 1 April 2011.
Important. Special rules may apply if you are under 25 or live in shared accommodation. Please contact us on 01636 650000 for further information.
I need a property with more than four bedrooms. Will I only get benefit at the four bedroom rate?
The maximum Local Housing Allowance you get will be based on the four bedroom rate. You can still look for properties with more than four bedrooms, or other rooms that can be used as bedrooms, with rents that are within the four bedroom rate, but if you move into a property with more than 4 bedrooms, the maximum Local Housing Allowance you could be entitled to would be capped at the 4 bedroom rate.
I receive Housing Benefit and I share a house with other people. Will the changes to Local Housing Allowance rates affect me?
The new way of setting Local Housing Allowance rates from April 2011 could lead to a reduction in the shared room rate.
I am living in a self contained studio flat what rate applies to me?
The one bedroom Local Housing Allowance rate will apply to you.
I am already getting Local Housing Allowance when will I be affected by the changes?
If you are already getting Local Housing Allowance, the changes are likely to affect the amount of money you get towards your rent.
The removal of the maximum £15 weekly Local Housing Allowance excess that some customers can receive will apply on the anniversary of their claim, or sooner if they move, or there is a change in the size of their household that affects the size of the dwelling to which they are entitled. For example, someone with an excess who first claimed Housing Benefit on March 2009 will lose the excess from 21 March 2012.
The other changes take effect from nine months after we next assess your housing benefit, after 1 April.
However, if there is a change in your household such as someone leaving or someone coming to live with you or if you move the changes could apply sooner.
When is my anniversary date?
Your anniversary date is the date you first made your current claim. For example, if you claimed housing benefit on 5 September 2010 your anniversary date is 5 September.
How will I know what the Local Housing Allowance rates will reduce to from April 2011?
There is information available about the levels of Local Housing Allowance rates that might apply from 1 April 2011 based on current rent levels on the Directgov website
This information will give you an idea of the amount of rent that might be met by Local Housing Allowance from 1 April 2011. The figures are estimates and will be updated regularly. Rent levels and rates may change between now and April 2011.
The rent I am paying now is likely to be more than the housing benefit I will get when the changes come in. What should I do?
You can talk to your landlord about the changes and see if they will reduce the rent on your property. If that isn’t possible you could start looking for somewhere cheaper. You might want to talk about your situation with us, our Housing Options team or a local Citizens Advice Bureau.
My landlord won’t reduce my rent and it is going to be difficult for me to move is there any other help?
We can help some people with a gap between their Local Housing Allowance entitlement and the rent they pay by awarding a Discretionary Housing Payment. The amount of money available for these payments is limited so we will have to consider your circumstances carefully. Please contact us for more information.
My housing benefit is paid directly to my landlord, what should I do if my LHA rate is reduced? Or how will I know that the amount paid to my landlord will still meet my rent?
We will send you a letter telling you about any changes to your Local Housing Allowance. If we pay your Local Housing Allowance to your landlord we will also write to them.
My housing benefit is higher than my rent and I am receiving the difference. Will I stop getting this?
Yes, you will stop getting this extra payment from your first anniversary date following 1 April 2011.
Do I have to be getting housing benefit under the LHA arrangements to get the allowance for another bedroom for an overnight carer?
No. This change applies to all tenants who meet the qualifying conditions and live in privately rented accommodation no matter how their housing benefit is worked out.
I think I will be due an increase in my housing benefit because I have a carer who stays overnight – who should I tell?
Make sure that we know you have an overnight carer so that we can look at your housing benefit entitlement again. You must already have an extra bedroom in your home available for the carer to use before you get this help. If you are already getting housing benefit and meet the conditions for this extra help you will be entitled to it from the 1st April 2011.
Local Housing Allowance – Landlord Information
I'm a Landlord - what information can you give me?
We believe that landlords are an important stakeholder in the service that we provide. We aim to work with landlords to ensure that they receive payment promptly and to ensure that overpayments are minimised. In return we ask landlords to respect our obligations towards claimant confidentiality and the Data Protection Act when they make enquiries about their tenants.
We can pay your tenants housing benefit entitlement directly to yourself provided your tenant agrees or if they are more than eight weeks in arrears with their rent payments. This may change for some tenants after 7th April 2008 following the introduction of the Local Housing Allowance.
Please note that if you accept direct payment from us we may require you to pay back money if your tenant receives housing benefit to which they are not entitled.
When we pay housing benefit directly to a landlord and their tenants entitlement to housing benefit changes we may ask the landlord to repay the money that has been overpaid. Each case is decided on its own merits. If we decide that it is appropriate to recover the money from the landlord we will invoice them. The invoice will show the period of the overpayment the name of the tenant and the amount of the overpayment
Local Housing Allowance Rates and broad rental areas
Further information on Local Housing Allowance Rates can be found on Directgov website
For further information and a full list of electronic forms:
For customer comments:
Newark and Sherwood District Council