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Local Housing Allowance: Housing Benefit for private sector tenants

If you rent your property from a private landlord (not a housing association), your housing benefit will be worked out using the Local Housing Allowance.

Local Housing Allowance is based on:

  • the area you live in
  • who lives with you

Expand all

Local Housing Allowance explained

  • How long will my Local Housing Allowance rate last?

    Local Housing Allowance rates last until 31 March each year. Your Local Housing Allowance will start:

    • from the date of your claim for Housing Benefit;
    • from the date you move address;
    • from the date of change, if there is a change in the number of bedrooms you are entitled to;
    • if a relative passes away who lived in the same dwelling as you and was not your joint tenant; or,
    • each year on 1 April. 
  • How is Local Housing Allowance paid?

    Your housing benefit will be paid directly to you, not your landlord.

    Your benefit is for you to pay your rent with. If you do not use your benefit to pay your rent, your landlord may take you to court to try to evict you and you may lose your home.

    If you think that you will have difficulty paying your rent if your benefit is sent directly to you, we may be able to pay it to your landlord. We may also be able to pay your landlord if this would help you secure or retain a tenancy. This is called a ‘safeguard payment’.

    If you fall into rent arrears of eight weeks or more, we will normally pay your Housing Benefit directly to your landlord.

    For more information about safeguard payments, download our  safeguard policy (PDF 107 KB).

    To apply for a safeguard payment, please download the  safeguard payment request form (PDF 110 KB). Send your completed form to Benefits, The Forum, Marlowes, Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, HP1 1DN. 

  • I am a landlord - can my tenant's housing benefit be paid directly to me?

    Local Housing Allowance is normally paid directly to the tenant. However, in some circumstances benefit can be paid to the landlord if:

    • the tenant is likely to have difficulty paying their rent;
    • the tenant is unlikely to pay their rent;
    • we decide that payment to the landlord will help the tenant to secure or retain a tenancy; or,
    • there are rent arrears of eight weeks or more.

    For more information download our  safeguard policy (PDF 107 KB)

    If you think that your tenant will have difficulty paying their rent, or they are unlikely to pay their rent, please download the  safeguard payment request form (PDF 110 KB). It is best if you complete this form with your tenant.

    Send your completed form to Benefits, The Forum, Marlowes, Hemel Hempstead, Herts, HP1 1DN.

    If your tenant is getting into rent arrears, you do not have to wait until eight weeks has passed before contacting us. Please be aware that we will contact your tenant about any rent arrears before we make a decision.

    We will make a decision about who we make payments to as quickly as possible, but sometimes we will need more information before we can make a decision. 
  • How much housing benefit will I get?

    To work out how much benefit you can claim, you need to:

    The amount of benefit you can claim depends on:

    • your income
    • how much you have in savings
    • how much your rent is
    • whether we expect anyone living with you to contribute towards your rent
    • whether you share the rent with someone else who is not your partner - for example, a joint tenant.  

    You can get an instant estimate by using the benefits advisor service

  • How many bedrooms can I have?

    The number of bedrooms you can have depends on how many people you live with. We do not count other rooms such as a living room, kitchen, or bathroom.

    We use the number of bedrooms you can have to work out with Local Housing Allowance rate applies to you.

    You are entitled to one bedroom (up to a maximum of four) for:

    • each adult couple
    • any other person aged 16 or over
    • any two children of the same sex under the age of 16
    • any two children under ten years old, whatever their sex
    • any other child
    • a carer (who does not normally live with you) if you or your partner need overnight care.

    Example

    Susan is a single mother with three children. Tom is 14, Jane is 11 and Rob is 6.

    Susan is entitled to have one bedroom for herself, one bedroom for Jane and one bedroom for Tom and Rob to share. This means that any benefit they get will be based on the Local Housing Allowance rate for three bedrooms. 
  • Which Local Housing Allowance rate applies to me?

    Depending on your circumstances, there are some extra rules.

    You are aged 35 or over, single and have no dependants

    Your benefit will be based on either the shared accommodation rate (if you rent a room), or on the one bedroom rate (as long as your accommodation has exclusive use of at least two rooms).

    You are aged under 35, single and have no dependants

    Your benefit will be based on the shared accommodation rate.

    You are a couple with no dependants

    Your benefit will be based on the one bedroom rate.

    You are a care leaver aged under 22

    Your benefit will be based on the one bedroom rate.

    You are severely disabled

    If you need overnight care, you are entitled to an extra bedroom.

    You are a joint tenant

    Your benefit will be based on the rate that applies to your household’s circumstances. For example, if you live alone and you have no dependants, your benefit will be based on the one bedroom rate.

    You were previously a resident in a homeless hostel that offers support and rehabilitation for three months

    Your benefit will be based on the one bedroom rate.

  • What if my rent is not the same as the Local Housing Allowance rate that applies to me?

    If your rent is lower than the Local Housing Allowance rate that applies to you, your maximum Housing Benefit will be your rent.

    • Example 1
      Your rent is £90 per week and the Local Housing Allowance is £100.
      The maximum amount of Housing Benefit we could pay you is £90.

    If your rent is more than the Local Housing Allowance rate that applies to you, your maximum Housing Benefit will be the Local Housing Allowance rate.

    • Example 2
      Your rent is £160 and the Local Housing Allowance is £100.
      The maximum amount of Housing Benefit that we could pay you is £100.