Local Housing Allowance

Local Housing Allowance changes from 1 January 2012

Single and aged between 25 - 35? What's changing?

The Government is extending the age group for single young people who can only claim the shared accommodation rate to help with their rent (rather than being able to claim for self-contained one-bedroom accommodation).

Currently the conditions below apply to individuals under 25, this will be extended to 35 from the 1st January 2012. This means you may only be entitled to the lower rate of Local Housing Allowance for a room in shared accommodation if all of the following apply:
  • You are a single person.
  • You are occupying one-bedroom or larger self-contained accommodation in the private rented sector.
  • Your Housing Benefit is due to be reviewed from January 2012 onwards or you apply for Housing Benefit from the 1st January 2012.
  • You are aged 25 or over but under 35 years at the date of the review or new claim.
  • You are not covered by any of the exemptions on sharing accommodation

What are the Exemptions?
  1. You are aged 25 -35 and you have a non dependant resident in the property
  2. You are aged 25 - 35 and qualify for a Severe disability premium in the assessment of your Housing Benefit or your Income Support/Job Seekers Allowance
  3. You are aged 25- 35 and have spent at least 3 months in a specialized hostel for homeless people
  4. You are aged 25-35 and are subject to Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA)

The rules for under 25's will remain the same with the current exemptions still being applied, however exemption 3 and 4 above will not apply to under 25's. If you believe you may be entitled to an exemption but are not receiving it please contact Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council.

Transitional Protection

Certain customers will receive transitional protection; this means that the change will be implemented 9 months after it was due to. This protection can end early if you have a break in your claim, move, or the size of property you need changes.

How will it Affect Me?

These changes will affect different types of customer in different ways, these are detailed below:
  1. If you have been in continuous receipt of Housing Benefit since the 31st March 2011 and claimed before the 31st March 2011 your benefit will change on the first anniversary date of your claim that falls after the 1st April 2011 however, you will receive 9 months transitional protection.
  2. If you have claimed housing benefit after the 1st of April 2011 (but before the 1st January 2012) or there has been a break in your claim since the 1st of April 2011 then your benefit will change on the first anniversary of your claim.
  3. If you claim housing benefit after the 1st January 2012 you will automatically receive the Shared Accommodation Rate

All customers who are potentially affected by these changes have been written to.

How much benefit will I get?

Every claim is based on an individual assessment so we cannot say what each person will get, however the maximum benefit you will be able to receive is the shared accommodation rate. The Shared accommodation rate can change every month and as we have to use the rate that applies when the change affects you we cannot accurately warn you in advance of the new rate.

What if I cant afford my rent after the change?

The above changes will have a significant impact on some customers with reductions in housing benefit, if you find yourself with a shortfall between your benefit and rent that you cannot afford we recommend the following options.
  • Ask your landlord if there can be any rent reduction, particularly if there is only a small shortfall. We can also ensure payments go straight to your landlord in this scenario if the change secures and retains your tenancy.
  • Seek alternative accommodation, this may be the best option if there is a very large shortfall between benefit and rent.
  • Speak to the Homelessness section at Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council, they can assess your needs and give you help and advice on finding alternative accommodation.
  • Apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment. Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council has a limited pot of money that it can use to assist people with exceptional circumstances and generally on a short term basis. This is awarded on a case by case basis and there is no guarantee of an award or the amount.
  • In all cases it is important that you act as soon as you realise that there may be a problem paying your rent.
Local Housing Allowance (LHA) Changes From April 2011

These changes affect you if your Benefit is calculated under the LHA rules. This includes most people who rent from a private landlord and whose Housing Benefit claim for their current address started from the 7th April 2008 onwards.

If your Benefit is worked out under the 'old rules' which applied before April 2008 then the LHA changes below don't affect you. If you make a new claim from April 2011 and the LHA rules apply to you, then these changes apply to your claim straight away.

From 1st April 2011 the Following Changes Will Happen:
  • The removal of the maximum £15.00 weekly Housing Benefit excess (sometimes called a 'top-up') that some customers can receive under LHA rules.
  • The abolition of the five bedroom LHA rate so that the maximum level used for calculating Housing Benefit is for a four bedroom property.
  • The introduction of absolute caps so that LHA weekly rates in any area cannot exceed:
    £250.00 for a one bedroom property

    £290.00 for a two bedroom property

    £340.00 for a three bedroom property

    £400.00 for a four bedroom property
  • A change to help disabled people who have a carer who needs to stay overnight but who does not normally live with them. The care can be provided by an individual or a team of carers however, evidence that regular overnight care is needed and is provided is required. The change means that Housing Benefit will take into account the cost of an additional bedroom providing that the property you rent has a bedroom for your carer.
  • A new rule that allows Housing Benefit to be paid direct to your landlord. If your landlord helps you to get a new tenancy, or keep your current one, by charging a reduced rent that is affordable to you. (This means an amount close to the LHA rate for the size of the home)

People making new claims from the 1st April 2011 will be affected straight away. Existing customers will normally be affected from the anniversary of their claim. They may be affected sooner if: -
  • there is a change in the size of their household that affects the size of dwelling they are entitled to, or
  • if they move.

Frequently Asked Questions About April 11 Changes

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.

When will I be affected by the changes to Local Housing Allowance rates?

If you make a new claim from 1 April 2011 you will be affected straight away. If you are already getting Housing Benefit under LHA you will not be assessed under the new arrangements until the anniversary of your claim occurring either on or following 1 April 2011. But then you could have protection for up to nine months before you are affected.

I need a property with more than four bedrooms. Will I only get benefit at the four bedroom rate?

The maximum Housing Benefit 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.

I am sharing 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 Housing Benefit when will I be affected by the changes?

If you are already getting Housing Benefit you will not normally be affected until the anniversary of your claim. But 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 2008 your anniversary date is 5 September.

This means that the changes the Government is making from 1 April 2011, could affect you from 5 September 2011 but you could be protected from a reduction in your Local Housing Allowance rate for a further nine months.

If you currently get a Housing Benefit excess payment you will lose it from your anniversary date.

If I am thinking of renting and claiming Housing Benefit, how much rent should I agree to pay?

The Council's Webpage will be updated monthly with the new rates.

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 drop 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 your local authority housing options team and Housing Benefit department or the Citizens Advice Bureau.

My landlord wont reduce my rent and it is going to be difficult for me to move. Is there any other help?

Your local authority can help some people with a Discretionary Housing Payment to meet the gap between their benefit entitlement and the rent they pay. The amount of money available for these payments is limited so your authority will have to consider your circumstances carefully.

My Housing Benefit is paid directly to my landlord, what should I do if my Local Housing Allowance rate is reduced? Or how will I know that the amount paid to my landlord will still meet my rent?

The Housing Benefit department at your local authority will be able to give you information. You might find it helps to talk to your landlord about the changes.

I am getting an excess between my rent and my Local Housing Allowance rate. Will I stop getting this?

If you are getting an excess it will stop from your anniversary date on or following 1 April 2011.

Do I have to be getting Housing Benefit under the Local Housing Allowance 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 your local authority knows you have an overnight carer so that they 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 date the legislation becomes effective.

What about extra rooms for other circumstances such as disabled children, couples that cannot share a room or where extra space is needed for medical equipment?

The change only applies where the person making the Housing Benefit claim, or their partner, needs overnight care.

How Much LHA will I Get?

LHA is set each month by the Valuation Office Agency. Most tenants will receive LHA based on the number of rooms that their household needs (maximum four bedrooms) not the number of rooms in the property they rent or the rent that they are charged. However, if LHA is less than the rent the tenant is responsible for paying, the tenant will have to pay the difference. LHA is awarded when you make a claim and lasts for one year unless your household circumstances change. After one year it is updated to take into account any changes to LHA.

How many rooms am I allowed?

You are allowed one bedroom for
  • each adult couple
  • any other adult (aged 16 or over)
  • any two children under 10
  • any two children of the same sex aged 10 to 15
  • or for any other child.
We do not take any other rooms into account when this is worked out. For example

Household Bedrooms LHA
Family A couple with one child 2 2 room LHA
Family B - couple with 1 girl aged 6 and 1 boy aged 8 2 2 room LHA
Family C - couple with 1 girl aged 6 and 1 boy aged 12 3 3 room LHA

Care leavers aged under 22 and childless couples:
If you are a couple with no children, you will get the one room LHA but you must rent a property with at least two rooms, or less than two rooms if it is self contained. This means that the accommodation has its own bathroom/toilet and kitchen. If the property has less than two rooms and is not self contained you will be entitled to the shared room LHA only. Care leavers aged under 22 will qualify for the one room rate regardless of what they rent until they reach the age of 22 where they will fall within the definition for aged under 35s.

Single people aged under35:
If you are single and aged under 35 you will get the shared room LHA irrespective of the size of property you rent.

Note: This does not apply to people aged under 25 who qualify for a Severe Disability Premium in their benefit assessment. Certain people under the age of 25 are not classed as a young individual therefore these would not be subject to the Shared rate LHA rules.

Joint tenants:
Joint tenants are people who are not a couple but share a property and are named on the tenancy agreement. Joint tenants will get LHA for their own household not including the family of the other joint tenants.

Current LHA rates
The rates on the following table apply to the whole of Teesside.

 icon LHA TABLE 10-11.pdf (12.33k)
Last modified: 22/02/2012 16:38:57

 icon LHA TABLE 12-13.pdf (12.12k)
Last modified: 18/06/2012 10:35:25

LHA rates are set each month by the Rent Service which is part of Her Majesty's Revenues and Customs Valuation Office. The rates are set on a monthly basis and can change each month.

How will I get my benefit if LHA applies to me?

Usually you will have your benefit paid directly to you, directly into your bank or building society account, if you have one, or by cheque.
If you do not already have a bank or building society account, we would advise you to set one up. Please see our leaflet How to open a bank account

The first payment of local housing allowance on a new claim can normally be made in the form of a cheque made payable to the landlord and sent to the tenants address.

The first payment is usually made this way because it can be for a higher amount than the usual two weekly payments so it makes sure the tenant does not fall into arrears. After the first payment, payments will normally be made direct to the tenant every two weeks in arrears.

Landlords will need to make arrangements with their tenant to collect the rent. Most people find that the best way is for the tenant to allow us to pay their local housing allowance direct into their bank or building society account. They can then set up a standing order or direct debit to pay their landlord every two weeks.

Bank Accounts

You can get advice about opening and running a bank account from any bank or building society and from welfare bodies such as Welfare Rights and Citizens Advice Bureau .


Some people may have difficulty getting the local housing allowance and paying their rent. Payments of local housing allowance can be made direct to a landlord if:
  • we consider that a tenant is unlikely to pay their rent we could pay directly to a landlord.
  • we think that a tenant cannot handle their own affairs, we could pay directly to a landlord.
  • we can also make payment directly to landlords where a tenant is more than 8 weeks in arrears with their rent.
Payments to landlords will be made 4 weekly in arrears. We are not able to pay landlords fortnightly.

Powers of attorney :
If someone else looks after your money for you or there is a power of attorney, payment can be made to the person who looks after your money or the person with the power of attorney.

 icon Safeguard Policy (Safeguard Policy V4.pdf - 495.8k)
Last modified: 04/05/2011 14:23:22

Where to get more information

If you want to know more about the changes and how they affect you:
Remember that this information is for guidance purposes only. It is possible that information will be subject to changes in local rates and government legislation. The Council will aim to keep this webpage updated as appropriate when changes occur.

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