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Birmingham City Council

Local Housing Allowance

Overview

Local Housing Allowance is paid to people living in privately rented accommodation in order to help them pay their rent. It is usually paid direct to the person making the claim, but may be paid direct to the landlord in special circumstances.

Essential Information
  • How much will I get?

    The Government sets maximum amounts for different sized accommodation and the amount you can be awarded will initially be assessed on the number of people you have living in your household. This can be further reduced by any money above a certain level that you have coming into the house or by having other adults (except your partner) living in your home.

    The rates for the different sizes of accommodation are set in April of each year and remain in place until the following year. Therefore the rates in place as at April 2013 will not be changed until April 2014.



    LHA does not apply to people;

    • Who rent their home from the council;
    • Who rent their home from a registered social landlord or housing association;
    • Whose tenancy started before 1989 or who have a registered fair rent;
    • Who live in supported accommodation; or
    • Who live in hostels, caravans and houseboats.

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


    Links and attachments

    There are a number of leaflets that explain the Local Housing Allowance in further detail. These are available to download at the bottom of this page.


  • Changes to Shared accommodation rates

    Single claimants under 35 and living in privately rented accommodation are only entitled to the shared accommodation rate for LHA. This means that the maximum award of LHA that could be paid is the rate for a single room with shared facilities, regardless of the size of the accommodation they are sharing.

    The following groups are also not affected by this rule:

    • Claimants over 25 but under 35 who have spent at least three months in a specialist hostel or hostels for homeless people, where the main purpose of that hostel is to provide supervision, care and support with a view to assisting people to be rehabilitated or resettled in the community
    • Claimants over 25 but under 35 whose housing has been arranged under active multi-agency management under active Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA), to be settled back into the community
    • Severely disabled people receiving the middle or highest care component for Disability Living Allowance
    • Single claimants under 22 who have left care.


    Worried about losing your tenancy?

    There is a legal procedure that has to be followed if you are being served with a notice to quit or being told that your tenancy is being ended. For more information and assistance you can call the Private Tenancy Unit on 0121 303 5070.

    If your rent has changed recently or if any other circumstances have changed that you have not told us about, please tell us immediately by using the online change in circumstances form. .


  • In all cases written evidence will be required and will depend on the claimant’s circumstances.

    People who can give evidence include:


    • Family and friends of the claimant;
    • The landlord;
    • Welfare groups;
    • Care workers;
    • Money and Debt Advisors;
    • Social Services;
    • GP;
    • Probation Officer;
    • Jobcentre Plus;
    • The Pension Service;
    • Support workers;
    • Community nurses;
    • Hospital staff; or
    • Court staff.

    This list is not exhaustive and we will require signed, written permission from the claimant to contact third parties on their behalf.

  • From 1st April 2011 payments can be made direct your landlord where they have reduced the level of your rent in order for you to retain or to secure your tenancy.

    There are circumstances where we must pay the landlord the Local Housing Allowance and these are:

    • Where we have evidence that a claimant is 8 full weeks or more in arrears with their rent; or
    • The claimant is having deductions made from their Income Support or Jobseekers Allowance to pay for rent arrears.

    We can also make a decision to pay the Local Housing Allowance to the landlord on behalf of the claimant where we consider the claimant is unlikely or unable to pay their rent. This could be because they are vulnerable or have severe financial difficulties, for example:

    • A claimant has rent arrears and has consistently failed to pay their rent;
    • A claimant has previously absconded from a property leaving rent arrears;
    • Claimants who are unable to open a bank or building society account;
    • Claimants with severe debt problems;
    • Claimants who are bankrupt.

    By vulnerable we mean someone who may have difficulty managing his or her money because of a particular reason. This may include:

    • People with medical conditions;
    • People with learning difficulties;
    • People with physical disabilities;
    • People who are mentally ill;
    • Illiteracy or an inability to speak, read or write English;
    • A person with alcohol/substance/gambling addiction;
    • A person receiving assistance from a homeless charity;
    • A person who is housebound or lives alone with no support.

    The above list is not exhaustive and there may be other reasons why the claimant may be considered vulnerable. However, the vulnerability must lead to an inability to manage their own affairs. Many people in the categories described above, whilst vulnerable will be both perfectly willing and able to manage their rent.


Frequently Asked Questions
    • Please email us at ptmailbox@birmingham.gov.uk, giving details of the letter you require.

      Please note that this email address cannot accept email with attachments - if you need to provide further information, please copy and paste it into the body of your email.


    • If you are awaiting notification of an award of housing benefit following a new application you should receive this within 14 days. This is providing that you:

      • Answered all the questions on the claim form;
      • Signed the claim form in all places you were asked to; and
      • Have supplied all of the proofs required.

      If you have previously received a payment and payments have now stopped without an explanation, then please contact us at ptmailbox@birmingham.gov.uk so that we can investigate. .

    • Please either write to us at:


      Benefit Service
      Birmingham City Council
      PO Box 8267
      Birmingham

      or email us at ptmailbox@birmingham.gov, giving full details.

      Please note that this email address cannot accept email with attachments - if you need to provide further information, please copy and paste it into the body of your email.

    • The decision has been made on your tenant's claim, so as a landlord you are unable to appeal. However, you may ask for the claim to be looked at again.


      Please either write to us at:

      Benefit Service
      Birmingham City Council
      PO Box 8267
      Birmingham
      B4 7XF

      or email us at ptmailbox@birmingham.gov.uk, giving full details.

      Please note that this email address cannot accept email with attachments - if you need to provide further information, please copy and paste it into the body of your email.

    • Yes, as long as the claimant has either


      • Signed Part 16 of the housing benefit claim form; or
      • Completed Section 11 of an electronic benefit claim form; or
      • Written to us giving us permission to allow you access to their benefit claim.

      Also, as the landlord you must be able to provide us with the following information when contacting us about your tenant's claim:


      • Your name and/or company name;
      • Your address and/or company address;
      • Your tenant's name and address;
      • Your landlord code, if you have one.


      You can find more detailed information on the Landlord Advice pages.

    • An Overpayment is when we have paid you benefit which you are not entitled to receive.

      The majority of overpayments are usually caused when people do not notify us of a change in circumstance immediately, including a change of address.

      We could reduce your benefit by £10.65 each week to recover the overpayment.
      You will need to make up the shortfall in your rent.

      If you are experiencing financial difficulties you can write and ask us to reconsider the amount by which we reduce your benefit.

      Our address is

      Benefit Service
      Birmingham City Council
      PO Box 8267
      Birmingham
      B4 7XF

    • If your tenant is receiving housing benefit payments direct and falls in arrears, please report it to us straight away. We will then usually send any further housing benefit payments directly to you or the agent.

      If we do not feel that you should receive these payments direct, we can refuse to make them or withhold benefits while an investigation takes place. To recover the arrears you would have to pursue the tenant. This may involve taking enforcement action against them.

      If you are considering taking enforcement action against your tenant, please contact us at ptmailbox@birmingham.gov.uk.

      Or write to:

      Benefit Service
      Birmingham City Council
      PO Box 8267
      Birmingham
      B4 7XF

    • Local Housing Allowance is a scheme of Housing Benefit for people living in private rented accommodation.

    • Local Housing Allowance is usually paid to the claimant. Under Local Housing Allowance a claimant cannot simply request that payment is made to their landlord to cover their rent.