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Local Housing Allowance

Welcome to the Birmingham City Council Local Housing Allowance pages. Over the next few months we will be adding extra information to keep you informed about changes to how Housing Benefit is paid and calculated.

On7 April 2008 a new form of Housing Benefit called Local Housing Allowance (LHA) was introduced. The scheme is designed to be a simpler and fairer way of working out Housing Benefit for people on a low income who live in private rented accommodation and need help to pay their rent.

It is based on:

  • Who lives with you
  • What income and savings you have

It is not based on how much rent you pay

You will only be affected by the change if you rent your home from a private landlord and:

  • You make a new claim for Housing Benefit on or after 7 April 2008
  • You change address on or after 7 April 2008
  • You are already claiming Housing Benefit but there is a break in your claim for one week or more.

Local Housing Allowance will not apply to:

  • People who rent their home from the Council
  • People who rent their home from a Registered Social Landlord or Housing Association
  • People whose tenancy started before 1989 or who have a registered fair rent
  • People who live in supported accommodation
  • People who live in hostels, caravans and houseboats

It may also not apply if your rent includes an amount for meals.

Your Local Housing Allowance will be calculated on the number of rooms your household needs not the number of rooms in the property or the amount of rent you are charged.

The number of bedrooms you need is based on the number, age and gender of people you have living with you.

You are allowed one bedroom for:

  • A couple
  • Any other adult (age 16 or over)
  • Any two children under the age of 10
  • Any two children of the same sex under the age of 16
  • Any other child under the age of 16

If you make a new claim after 6 April 2009, the maximum LHA rate payable is the 5 bedroom rate only.

From 7 April 2008 the LHA rates will be set by the Rent Service. These will be available on Birmingham City Council website and will be displayed at every Neighbourhood Office throughout the city. The Rent Service will provide rates for households that require up to five rooms.

If the LHA is more than your rent you are entitled to keep the difference up to a maximum of £15.00 per week. The LHA rate that your claim is assessed on will be the rate effective on the date you make your claim. This will last for one year unless your household circumstances change.

For single claimants under 25 years old there will be a "shared" rate of LHA that replaces the single room rent. This rate will also apply to single people over 25 and couples with no other occupiers who chose to live in shared accommodation.

Important information for people entitled to a LHA rate of six or more bedrooms

From 6 April 2009, the LHA rates will be capped at the five bedroom rate for all new claims. This effectively means that no new customers will be able to receive a LHA rate above five bedrooms, irrespective of the size of their family.

Anyone who makes a new claim for LHA on or after 6 April 2009 will have their benefit entitlement calculated under these new rules.

If you are already in receipt of a LHA rate for six or more bedrooms, you will not be affected by these changes until:

  • you move address – if you move to a new home you will need to make a new claim for help towards your rent.
  • you have a change in your circumstances – examples include any change in the number of people who live in your home such as a partner or child moving in or out. Or a child reaching the age of 16 or if a boy and girl are sharing a room and one of them turns 11.
  • you have a break in your claim – if you stop claiming Housing Benefit for any reason (for example moving into work) any new claim for help towards your rent will be for Local Housing Allowance.
  • you reach the renewal point of the claim when it will be reassessed – when you reach the 12 month review date of your claim, your benefit will be protected for 26 weeks. It will then be re-assessed according to the five bedroom rate.

Payment of Local Housing Allowance

Usually you will have your Local Housing Allowance paid directly to you. It is then your responsibility to pay the rent to your landlord. If you do not pay your rent your landlord may take action against you.

If you do not already have one, you may want to set up a bank account. That way you can pay the rent to your landlord by setting up a standing order or direct debit. You can get advice about opening and running a bank account from any Neighbourhood Office. The staff there will be pleased to help you.

Also please see "A Guide to Basic Bank Accounts" below.

If you are worried about managing your money, please ask us if we can help. In certain circumstances we may be able to pay your rent directly to your landlord.

If you have any other questions regarding Local Housing Allowance please contact the Benefit Service on 0121 464 7000.

 PDF LHA Rates July 2009 (Size: 30.0 Kb Type: PDF )

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 PDF LHA Rates June 2009 (Size: 30.0 Kb Type: PDF )

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 PDF LHA Rates May 2009 (Size: 23.6 Kb Type: PDF )

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