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Local Housing Allowance

 

Local Housing Allowance monthly rates

South Staffordshire Council has 3 Broad Rental Market Areas ( BRMA’s) within its district. Each BRMA is post code defined and has its own set of Local Allowance (LHA) rates.

 

To find out which BRMA your postcode comes under and for other LHA information go to The LHA-Direct website How your Local Housing Allowance is worked out

 

The LHA-Direct website has three search functions:

  • Bedroom calculator = Work out how many bedrooms you may be eligible for
  • LA Search = Search LHA rates by Local Authority
  • Postcode Search = Search LHA rates by location

 

The current rates can be seen by clicking the following link:-

Link to a PDF document Local Housing Allowance Rates (April 2016 - March 2017)

Link to a PDF document Local Housing Allowance Rates (April 2015 - March 2016)

  

The maximum room rate allowable for LHA is four bedroom rate regardless of how many people live in the household.

 

The Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates will be applicable:

  • In the month that the claim is received, or
  • The month in which there is a change of address, or
  • The month in which there is a change in the number of occupiers in the household. (From April 2012 the LHA rates will no longer change each month. They will be reviewed in April of each year. 

 

1st April each year the council has to recalculate private tenants' LHA so that it stays in line with market rents.

 

Jan 2012 the LHA rate changed if you are single & under 35:

The Government changed the rules that apply to single people living in self-contained accommodation and aged 25 or more, but under 35. This means that they will only be entitled to the lower rate of Housing Benefit for a room in shared accommodation.

 

If you are single and aged 25 or more, but under 35, when your Housing Benefit Local Housing Allowance (LHA) is reassessed, this change will apply to you, unless you are covered by one of the exemptions. The change means that, instead of the LHA rate referred to above, you would move onto the LHA rate for shared accommodation in your area, which may be much lower.

 

The details of the change will not be known until they are agreed in Parliament later this year. Even when this happens we will not be able to tell you the exact rate for shared accommodation, as this varies from month to month. However, the current shared accommodation rate for your area can be found further down this page, this will give you an indication of the likely rate next year.

 

There is more information about the change and about the current shared accommodation rates in different parts of the country at the Direct Gov website – DirectGov (under local housing allowance).

 

If your tenancy is coming up for renewal or you’re thinking of moving, you should get advice before signing any new tenancy agreement. You need to be sure that you can afford the rent for the period of your tenancy otherwise you could fall into rent arrears.

 

You may be eligible for additional help towards your rent with a Discretionary Housing Payment; for more information go to our Discretionary Housing Payment page or contact us on 01902 696668.

 

Our Housing Options department may also be able to provide assistance. Please contact them on 01902 696504 for more information. Housing options; Affordable Housing - Interim Affordable Housing Policy

 

If you want to discuss how these changes may affect you then please call our office on the above number or contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau. Please see our webpage for Other Useful contacts.

 

 

LHA new claims will:

 

1 April the maximum rent (LHA) is calculated is changed so that;

  • the £15 weekly HB excess that some customers can receive is removed. 
  • the maximum LHA rate is for a 4 bedroom property instead of a 5 bedroom property.

 

LHA weekly rates in any area can not be more than;

  • £250 for a one bedroom property,
  • £290 for a two bedroom property,
  • £340 for a three bedroom property,
  • £400 for a four bedroom property. 

 

LHA rates are set at the 30th percentile of rents in the area rather than at the median so that about 3 in 10 properties for rent in the area should be affordable to people on HB rather than every 5 in 10 properties as now.

 

Additional bedroom for a non-resident carer

The regulations are amended to allow for an additional bedroom for a non-resident carer in the size 
criteria for all private rented sector cases when the customer or their partner is a person who requires

over night care.

 

Local Housing Allowance gives tenants more choice in where they live. This is because:

 

  • With Local Housing Allowance you will get the same amount of benefit as people in the same circumstances as you.
  • You can decide how much of your benefit you want to spend on renting a property. For example, you can choose to rent a large property and use all your benefit. Or, you can rent a smaller property and use the rest of your benefit for other things.
  • You can find out how much maximum Local Housing Allowance you may get before you rent a property.
  • You will find out about your Local Housing Allowance quicker than the previous Rent Referral scheme.

 

For more details see leaflets

Link to a word document SSDC (LHA) 1 'A Guide To Local Housing Allowance'

Link to a word document SSDC (LHA) 2 ‘Local Housing Allowance Information for Private Landlords’

Link to a word document South Staffs Safeguard Policy

 

If you don’t pay your rent you may be evicted from the property.

 

Local Housing Allowance (LHA) is paid directly to the tenant, not to the landlord. It is up to the tenant to make sure that the rent is paid to the landlord. This means that:

  • If your rent is higher than the LHA, you will have to make up the difference.
  • If your rent is lower than the LHA, you will pay your rent and keep the difference up to a maximum of £15.

 

 

Direct payments to tenants

The easiest way to receive LHA is straight into a bank account. This means that benefit is received on the day that it is due and a standing order or direct debit can be set up to pay your rent.

 

To arrange for LHA to be paid into a bank account, please contact the Benefits Service or complete the following form:Link to a PDF document BACS Payment Request Form (pdf)

 

LHA cannot be paid into a Post Office Card Account like some other benefits. You will need to have an account with a high street bank or credit union.

 

The Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) provides a Money Advice Service and they can help tenants by giving advice on:

 

· Opening bank accounts (see guide – Link to a word document Basic Bank Accounts)

· Setting up standing orders

· Making changes to household budgeting

· Rescheduling debts

· For details of your local CAB click here

 

 

Direct payments to landlords

LHA will normally be paid to the tenant.

Payment may be made direct to your landlord where we decide that the tenant is:

· Likely to have difficulty in managing their financial affairs

· Unlikely to pay their rent

 

We will only pay the landlord the contractual rent, if your LHA is higher then we will pay you the difference up to a maximum of £15 and you need to make arrangements to receive this.

 

You will need to put your reasons in writing as to why you think your LHA should be paid to your landlord. Alternatively you can complete the following form: Link to a PDF document Direct Payments Application Form. We may need to ask for further evidence.

 

You can contact us regarding our Safeguards for Tenants and Landlords procedure.

 

 

What happens if you are eight weeks in rent arrears?

If we are told that you owe more than eight weeks rent, we will look at paying your LHA directly to the landlord until the amount owing has been cleared. To make this decision we will look at the evidence from the landlord and check that the tenant agrees with it.

 

There are many reasons why someone cannot manage their money and paying the landlord may only be a short term arrangement. Citizens Advise Bureau may be able to offer support.

 

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

 

 

What to do if you have a change in circumstance?

If you move to a new address or other circumstances change, you should tell us straight away.

 

 

How your Local Housing Allowance is calculated?

The Local Housing Allowance (LHA) for private tenants is worked out according to:

 

· Locality

· How many bedrooms you have in relation to number of occupants

 

The number of people who are included in your claim for LHA will be used to work out how many bedrooms you are entitled to. This number will correspond to the category of LHA you will get. We do not count other rooms such as a kitchen or bathroom.

 

 

Size criteria

You are allowed one bedroom for:

 

· Every adult couple (same or opposite sex)

· Any other adult aged 16 or over

· Any two children of the same sex aged under 16

· Any two children under age 10

· Any other child

 

LHA - Size Criteria does not include a bedroom for a Foster Child

Foster children are not treated as occupiers for the purpose of the application of the size criteria in Local Housing Allowance cases.

 

 

If you are a landlord you can submit market evidence to help The Rent Service set the rates.

 

For more information regarding Local Housing Allowance, please go to Frequently Asked Questions.

 

 

Contacts

 

Housing Benefit & Council Tax Support Enquiries          Revenues & Benefits                           
Telephone: (01902) 696668 South Staffordshire Council
Fax: (01902) 696630 Wolverhampton Road
Email: benefits@sstaffs.gov.uk Codsall
  South Staffordshire
  WV8 1PX

 

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