Your local housing allowance rate is valid from 1 April to 31 March. If your landlord changes your rent mid-year, your entitlement to local housing allowance can be reassessed. However, you still won’t receive any more than the maximum shown in the table for the number of bedrooms applicable to your household.
If your rent is increased, but it was already above the maximum LHA you are entitled to, there is no need to reassess.
What does ‘shared’ accommodation mean?
Shared means you have your own bedroom, but share other facilities, such as bathroom, toilet or kitchen. However, the ‘shared’ rate of local housing allowance also applies to all single claimants under 35 with no dependants. It applies even if you can’t find shared accommodation in your area and are renting a property on your own.
The only exceptions are if you are a care leaver under 22 years old, severely disabled or have a carer providing overnight care on a regular basis, staying in an extra bedroom.
Shared also does not apply if you are over 25 and
- have spent at least three months in either a homeless hostel; or a hostel specialising in rehabilitating and resettling within the community (you need to have been offered and accepted the support services)
- are managed under the Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements.
What size property can I claim local housing allowance for?
The property sizes in the table don’t refer to the size of house you live in. Housing Benefit rules estimate the number of bedrooms people need, depending on the number of people in a household.
When you make a claim for local housing allowance, you’ll be assessed as needing a bedroom for each of the following people in your household:
- 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
- a foster child or foster children (if an extra bedroom is available)
- a carer (or team of carers) who do not live with you but provide you or your partner with overnight care (if an extra bedroom is available)
- an adult child who is a deployed member of the armed forces as long as they intend to return home to live (if an extra bedroom is available).
Foster children aren’t included in this calculation.
If you think you need an extra bedroom due to your child’s disability, please contact the benefits service for advice.
The maximum amount of LHA you can be awarded is the top rate in your area for a four bedroom property. You can still rent a larger house, but you will only get local housing allowance up to the maximum level for four bedrooms – and it’s likely that your LHA won’t cover all the rent.
Who decides the maximum local housing allowances for an area?
This is done by Rent Officers at the Valuation Office Agency, not Portsmouth City Council.