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. However, if you move address or end your existing claim and make a new claim then these changes will affect you straight away.
How do I know which Local Housing Allowance rate applies to me?
The following guide helps you work out how many bedrooms you are allowed.
You are allowed 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
- any other child
The maximum allowance from 1st April 2011 will be the four-bedroom rate.
Different rules may apply if you are under 25*, single and have no children or live in shared accommodation. For more information visit
*note: the Government has also announced plans to extend this to people aged under 35 from April 2012.
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?
The changes affect any new claims made after 1st April 2011. However, if you are already getting HB you may have more time before your rate changes. If your circumstances don’t change, you will have nine months at your current Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rate after we next review your LHA rate beyond April 2011. This is also known as the LHA ‘anniversary date’. But if there is a change in your circumstances the changes could apply sooner. The changes that would affect your LHA rate sooner are:
- If you move address
- If the number of people in your household changes so that a different LHA rate applies
- If your current claim ends for any reason and you have to make a new claim.
However, if your HB is worked out on a LHA rate higher than the rent you are paying then this will end immediately when we next review your claim at the
LHA anniversary date – there will be no 9 month protection for this reduction.
When is my LHA ‘anniversary date’?
Your anniversary date is the date you first made your claim at your current address.
For example, if you claimed Housing Benefit on 11 May 2008 your anniversary date is 11 May. This means that the removal of the £15 excess would affect you from 11 May 2011 but the general reduction in LHA rates would affect you from nine months after then from February 2012.
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.
My landlord won’t reduce my rent and it is going to be difficult for me to move, is there any other help available?
We 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 very limited so we would have to consider your circumstances carefully. Do not apply now - you would need to ask for this when your new Housing Benefit level is known.
My Housing Benefit is paid directly to my landlord, what should I do if my Local Housing Allowance rate is reduced?
We wrote to all individual customers starting in February 2011 to indicate how and when your claim may be affected. We will also be writing generally to landlords too to tell them about the changes.
I am getting an ‘excess’ (a top up) between my rent and my Local Housing Allowance rate. Will I stop getting this?
Yes. It will stop from your LHA anniversary date after 1st April 2011. See above for how to work out your LHA anniversary date.