Local housing allowance for tenants

Local housing allowance information for tenants

With local housing allowance, your benefit is not usually based on the property you live in. It is usually based on:

  • who lives with you;
  • which area you live in;
  • how much money you have coming in; and
  • what savings you have.

In some cases the amount of benefit you are entitled to will be affected by other things. These can include how much your rent is, and whether anyone living with you is expected to contribute to your rent.

How will I get my benefit if local housing allowance applies to me?

Usually you will have your benefit paid directly to you. It will be paid directly into your bank or building society account. If you do not already have a bank or building society account, you may want to set one up. That way you can arrange to pay the rent to your landlord automatically, using a standing order. You can get advice about opening and running a bank account from any bank or building society. You can also get advice from a welfare organisation such as Citizens Advice. It is up to you to pay the rent to your landlord. If you don't pay your rent, you may be taken to court and evicted from the property.

Can I have my benefit paid direct to my landlord?

Your benefit is paid to you unless you are likely to have difficulty paying your rent, or if you are more than 8 weeks in arrears it must be paid to your landlord. We may also be able to pay your benefit to your landlord if it will assist you to secure or retain your tenancy. If you are worried about managing your money, ask us if we can help. In some cases we may be able to pay your rent to your landlord.

What will happen if I use my benefit for something else?

Your benefit is for you to pay your rent with. As a tenant you are responsible for paying your rent to your landlord. If you do not pay the rent your landlord may apply to have your Housing Benefit paid to them, or take other action to recover their money. If you are in rent arrears your landlord may be able to go to the courts and ask that you be evicted from your home.

Eviction means that:

  • you will lose your home;
  • your benefit may not be paid to you in the future;
  • you may have difficulty finding new accommodation, as your landlord is unlikely to give you a reference;
  • you will still have to pay the landlord the money you owe and possibly extra money to cover any court costs; and
  • an application for re-housing could be affected as you may be considered to have made yourself intentionally homeless.

Changes of circumstance

If you are getting Housing Benefit and you move to a new address or there are any other circumstance changes you must tell us straightaway. You may need to make a new claim for Housing Benefit.

Why was local housing allowance introduced?

Local housing allowance gives tenants more choice in where they live and it's fairer too. This is because with local housing allowance:

  • you will be entitled to the same amount of benefit as people in the same circumstances as you;
  • you can find out how much benefit you can get before you rent a property;
  • you can decide how much of your benefit you want to spend on renting a property;
  • you will usually get your benefit paid to you. It is up to you to pay the rent to your landlord; and
  • you will find out about your benefit more quickly than before.

Working out your local housing allowance

To work out how much benefit you might get you need to:

  • Work out how many bedrooms you are entitled to and which local housing allowance rate applies to you - this is shown below;
  • Check the local housing allowance rates for the area you want to live in;
  • Find out if you can get the full amount of benefit.
  • The amount of benefit you can get may be affected by:
    • any money you have coming in;
    • any savings you have;
    • how much your rent is;
    • if we expect anyone living with you to pay towards your rent; and
    • if you share paying the rent with someone else who is not your partner.

For more information about this, please get in touch with us.

How many bedrooms am I entitled to?

The number of people who live with you is used to work out how many bedrooms you are entitled to. We do not count other rooms such as a living room, kitchen or bathroom. The number of bedrooms you are entitled to is then used to work out which Local Housing Allowance rate usually applies to you. In some cases, there are some more rules - these are looked at below. You can use the following information as a guide to work out how many bedrooms you are entitled to. Please note that the maximum Local Housing Allowance rate is four bedrooms.

You are entitled to one bedroom for:

  • every adult couple (married or unmarried);
  • any other adult aged 16 or over;
  • any two children of the same sex aged under 16;
  • any two children aged under 10; and
  • any other child.

There are certain other rules that allow an extra bedroom for

  • an overnight carer
  • a child who cannot share a room due to a disability
  • a couple who cannot share a room due to a disability  

There is criteria you have to meet in order to qualify for an extra bedroom.  Please contact us for further details. 

Examples

Carl and Kate
Carl and Kate are a couple who have a child, Ben, who is nine years old.
They are entitled to one bedroom for themselves and one for Ben. This means any benefit they are entitled to will be based on the local housing allowance rate for two bedrooms.

Susan
Susan is a single mother who has three children, Tom, who is fourteen, Judy, who is eleven and Raymond, who is six.
Susan is entitled to one bedroom for herself, one bedroom for Judy and one bedroom for Tom and Raymond to share. This means any benefit they are entitled to will be based on the local housing allowance rate for three bedrooms.

Lisa and Matt
Lisa and Matt are a couple who have five children, Shaun, who is seventeen, Graham, who is fifteen, Laura, who is twelve, Millie, who is nine and Jessica, who is six.

They are entitled to one bedroom for themselves, one bedroom for Shaun, one bedroom for Laura and Millie to share, one bedroom for Graham and one bedroom for Jessica. This means that although they need five bedrooms any benefit they are entitled to will be based on the local housing allowance rate for four bedrooms due to the maximum number of bedrooms local housing allowance can be based on.

You also need to find out if you can get the full amount of benefit. The amount of benefit you can get may be affected by:

  • any money you have coming in;
  • any savings you have;
  • how much your rent is; and
  • if you share paying the rent with someone else.

Non-dependants

A non-dependant is an adult who lives in your household who is not your partner. This could be a grown up son or daughter, an elderly relative or a friend. Under Local Housing Allowance the non-dependant is counted in with the number of people in your household when deciding how many bedrooms you are entitled to. As such we will ask to see evidence that the person is living in your household. However non-dependants are expected to contribute financially to household costs, including rent and council tax. Because of this we will also ask to see proof of their gross income - that is before tax and National Insurance.

We then make deductions from your benefit entitlement based on the non-dependant's income. We take this amount whether you receive anything from the non-dependant or not. They are expected to make up this amount to you.

What else might affect the local housing allowance rate?

There are extra rules affecting the local housing allowance rate you are entitled to if you are:

  • aged 35 or over, single and do not live with any dependants;
  • aged under 35, single and do not live with any dependants;
  • a couple and do not live with any dependants;
  • you are a care leaver aged under 22; and
  • you are severely disabled.

If you are a joint tenant this may affect the benefit you can get. For more information about joint tenants, please get in touch with us at the address below.

Working out your local housing allowance if you are aged 35 or over

If you are 35 or over, single and do not live with any dependants, your benefit will be based on the one bedroom local housing allowance rate if you live in:

  • a self-contained property;
  • shared accommodation but have two or more rooms (bedrooms or living rooms) that no-one else can use.

By a self-contained property we mean one where you have your own room plus your own bathroom, toilet and kitchen (or facilities to cook with). For example, this could be a one-bedroom flat.

If you live in shared accomodation with less than two rooms (bedrooms or living rooms), your benefit will be based on the shared room rate.

You also need to find out if you can get the full amount of benefit. The amount of benefit you can get may be affected by:

  • any money you have coming in;
  • any savings you have;
  • how much your rent is; and
  • if you share paying the rent with someone else.

Working out your local housing allowance if you are aged under 35

If you are aged under 35, are single and do not live with any dependants, you can only get the local housing allowance shared room rate. You also need to find out if you can get the full amount of benefit. The amount of benefit you can get may be affected by:

  • any money you have coming in;
  • any savings you have;
  • how much your rent is; and
  • if you share paying the rent with someone else.

Example

Marcus
Marcus is single. He is aged 23.
He is entitled to one bedroom for himself. As he is under 35, he is entitled to the local housing allowance shared room rate.

Working out your local housing allowance if you are a couple

By couple we mean a man and a woman who are married or are living together as if they are married, or two people of the same sex who are civil partners of each other or are living together as if they are civil partners and are members of the same household.
If you are part of a couple and do not live with any dependants, your benefit will be based on the one bedroom local housing allowance rate if you live in:

  • a self-contained property
  • shared accommodation but have two or more rooms (bedrooms or living rooms) that no-one else can use.

If you are part of a couple and do not live with any dependants, your benefit will be based on the local housing allowance shared room rate if you live in shared accommodation.

By a self-contained property we mean one where you have your own room plus your own bathroom, toilet; and kitchen (or facilities to cook with). For example, this could be a one-bedroom flat.

Examples

Bill and Jane
Bill and Jane are a couple who have no children. They live in a house where they share facilities.
They are entitled to one bedroom for themselves. As they share facilities, this means any benefit they are entitled to will be based on the local housing allowance shared room rate.

Gary and Roger
Gary and Roger are a couple. They live in a self-contained flat.
They are entitled to one bedroom for themselves. This means any benefit they are entitled to will be based on the local housing allowance rate for one bedroom.

You also need to find out if you can get the full amount of benefit. The amount of benefit you can get may be affected by:

  • any money you have coming in;
  • any savings you have;
  • how much your rent is;
  • if we expect anyone living with you to pay towards your rent; and
  • if you share paying the rent with someone else who is not your partner.

Working out your local housing allowance if you are a care leaver under 22

By care leaver we mean someone who was in council care after the age of 15. If you are a care leaver under 22, or live with a care leaver under 22 who is your partner, and have no dependent children your benefit will be based on the one bedroom local housing allowance rate.

You also need to find out if you can get the full amount of benefit. The amount of benefit you can get may be affected by:

  • any money you have coming in;
  • any savings you have;
  • how much your rent is; and
  • if you share paying the rent with someone else.

Working out your local housing allowance if you are severely disabled

If you are severely disabled, or live with a severely disabled partner, and have no dependent children, your benefit will be based on the one bedroom local housing allowance rate.