Falkirk Council

Falkirk Council
Telephone: 01324 506070

Local Housing Allowance

What is Local Housing Allowance (LHA)?

Local Housing Allowance (LHA) is a change in the way Housing Benefit is calculated for private tenants but, instead of calling it 'Housing Benefit for private tenants', it is called Local Housing Allowance.

The LHA scheme was phased in nationwide from 07 April 2008. It does not replace Housing Benefit: Council tenants, tenants of housing associations and some other tenants will continue to get 'normal' Housing Benefit. From 07 April 2008, we introduced LHA for tenants who made a new claim and rented properties from private landlords in the deregulated private sector.

Existing Private Sector tenants continued on the current scheme until they:

  • changed address to another private sector property or
  • their claim ended for one week or more and they then made a new one.

Why was LHA introduced?

LHA was introduced to increase responsibility, place choice firmly in the hands of tenants and help develop the skills to make the transition into work. The objectives were:

  • fairness – to pay similar amounts to tenants with similar circumstances
  • choice – to allow tenants to choose between price and quality of accommodation
  • transparency – easier for tenants (before they commit themselves to a property) and landlords to find out how much rent could be covered by LHA
  • personal responsibility – making tenants take responsibility for budgeting for and paying their own rent
  • financial inclusion – to encourage private tenants to have their housing payments paid into a bank account and set up a standing order to pay the rent to their landlord
  • improved administration and reduced barriers to work – a simpler system helps to speed up the administration of housing payments giving private tenants more confidence when starting a job that any in-work benefit will be paid quickly.

Who does and doesn't get LHA?

Local Housing Allowance (LHA) applies to:

  • all private tenants who make a new claim on or after 07 April 2008 (A private tenant is someone renting accommodation from a private landlord/agent in the deregulated sector. By deregulated, we mean where you have entered into a tenancy agreement with a private landlord on, or after, 02 January 1989.)
  • existing Housing Benefit claimants in private sector tenancies who have a break in their claim of more than a week starting on or after 07 April 2008
  • existing Housing Benefit claimants who move to a new private sector tenancy on or after 07 April 2008.

Existing private tenants already getting Housing Benefit before 07 April 2008 carried on getting it under the old rules until one of the above applied.

The following types of tenants also still get Housing Benefit:

  • Council tenants
  • Housing Association tenants
  • tenants who have a registered fair rent
  • tenancies that started before 02 January 1989
  • tenancies where care, supervision or support is included
  • tenancies of caravans, mobile homes or houseboats
  • tenancies where a 'substantial' part of the rent is for board and attendance.

LHA claims

Local Housing Allowance (LHA) is claimed by completing a Private Sector Housing Benefit claim form.

Although we cannot fill the form in for you, we can assist you with its completion. You can complete a short claim form (PDF, 32KB), which you can download from this site and return it to us. We will then send you out a full form, which you must complete and return to us with the necessary supporting documentary evidence.

If you want a claim form or more information about benefit, please contact your local One Stop Shop, or the Private Sector Benefit Team at the Falkirk One Stop Shop, Callendar Square Shopping Centre, High Street, Falkirk.

LHA rates

2013/2014 LHA rates for the Forth Valley broad market rental area.

These rates will remain in place for the full financial year April 2013 to March 2014.

Number of rooms Weekly rate Monthly rate
Shared accommodation rate £61.15 £264.98
1 bedroom £84.23 £365.00
2 bedrooms £103.85 £450.02
3 bedrooms £126.92 £549.99
4 bedrooms £173.08 £750.01
5 bedrooms Capped at 4 bedroom rate Capped at 4 bedroom rate

These are the rates that will apply to any LHA claims with an effective date between 01 April 2013 and 31 March 2014.

*From April 2011, there is no longer a five bedroom rate. If you need more than four bedrooms, the LHA rate we use to assess benefit will be capped at the four bedroom rate.

LHA calculation

The Rent Service Scotland has defined the broad market rental area (BRMA) and has set a single area for Forth Valley that includes Falkirk, Stirling and Clackmannan.

There is a single set of Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates that applies to any tenants living in this area.
Once they set the BRMAs, the Rent Service Scotland then set the LHA rates, which are currently standard rates based on the average rents for properties of a given size.

The LHA rates are based on the number of bedrooms; this is because the size criteria sets out the number of bedrooms a claimant is deemed to need for their household.

Where a person falls under the LHA scheme, their maximum rent is the LHA rate that they are entitled to. In most cases, the maximum rent becomes the claimant's eligible rent and is the figure we use to calculate their Housing Benefit (HB) award. The LHA rate that applies is the rate that is set annually on 1 April.

We review the LHA rate used to calculate benefit annually on 1 April or earlier if there is a relevant change in the claimant's household circumstances eg change of address or change in number of occupiers or a rent increase or reduction.

The Rent Service Scotland gives us the LHA rates for all property sizes (up to four bedrooms)* annually in March. The current rates are available under LHA rates or by calling the Private Sector Benefit Team.

*From 01 April 2011, if a person claims LHA for a property with more than four bedrooms, the LHA rate we use to assess benefit will be capped at the four bedroom rate.

A claimant or landlord cannot appeal against the LHA rates set by the Rent Service Scotland. There are three steps to the calculation:

  1. establish how many bedrooms you are entitled to and which LHA rate will apply
  2. check the LHA rates for the Falkirk area
  3. find out if you are entitled to the full amount of benefit

The amount of benefit you can get may be affected by the following:

  • if there is anyone living with you who we will make a non-dependant deduction for
  • if you are a joint tenant

You must make a claim for Housing Benefit (LHA) in the normal manner. Contact us for a form.

LHA size criteria

The size criteria is the size of property a claimant is deemed to need for their household. It is based on the number of bedrooms only and does not take account of any other rooms in the property. Once a claimant knows how many bedrooms they are allowed, they can work out the maximum LHA rate for a property of that size in the area they want to live in.

Claimants are allowed one bedroom for:

  • each adult couple
  • any other adult (aged 16 or over)
  • any two children under 10
  • any two children of the same sex aged 10 to 15
  • or for any other child
  • non resident carer who stays overnight (conditions apply)*

No other rooms are taken into account when this is worked out.

You can use the calculator to work out how many bedrooms your household needs.

From 1st April 2011, there is no longer a five bedroom rate. If a claimant needs more than four bedrooms, the LHA rate we use to assess benefit is capped at four bedrooms.

Non- resident carer

*From 1st April 2011, if a tenant or their partner has the need for overnight care and, the care is provided by someone who lives elsewhere the size criteria allows for an additional bedroom if there is a bedroom available for the carer.

Example of Local Housing Allocation rates
Household Bedrooms LHA
A: single person under 35 with no non-dependants (exceptions apply) 1 Shared Accommodation Rate
B: Single, over 35 and no children(Shared accommodation rate applies if do not have exclusive use of two or more rooms) 1 1 room LHA
C: Couple, no children(Shared rate applies if do not have exclusive use of two or more rooms) 1 1 room LHA
D: Couple with one child 2 2 room LHA
E: Couple with 1 girl aged 6 and 1 boy aged 8 2 2 room LHA
F: Couple with 1 girl aged 6 and 1 boy aged 12* 3 3 room LHA

* F is entitled to three bedrooms. If they choose to rent a property with two bedrooms, their benefit will still be worked out using the three room LHA.

Single people over 35 years old and couples with no children

If a claimant is single and over 35, or a couple with no children, they get the one room LHA rate, as long as they have rented a property with at least two rooms or less than two rooms if it is self contained. This means that the accommodation has its own bathroom/toilet and kitchen. If the property has less than two rooms and is not self contained, the claimant is entitled to the shared accommodation rate only.

Joint tenants

Joint tenants are people who are not a couple but share a property and are named on the tenancy agreement. Joint tenants get the LHA for their own household not including the family of the other joint tenants. Exception to this rule is where the joint tenants are related. Please contact the office for advice.

LHA payments

We will usually pay LHA directly into a claimants bank or building society account, if they have one, or by crossed cheque.
If you, as a claimant, do not already have a bank or building society account, you may want to set one up so you can arrange to pay your rent to your landlord automatically, using a standing order or direct debit.

You can get advice about opening and running a bank account from any bank or building society, or from your local Citizens Advice Bureau. Claimants do not have the right to choose to have LHA paid direct to their landlord / agent

Tenants who get LHA are expected to take greater responsibility for managing their financial affairs and paying their rent to their landlords / agents, in the same way as other tenants do. This is why LHA will usually be paid to the tenant and not to the landlord / agent. However, there are a number of circumstances in which we can still pay LHA direct to the landlord / agent as a safeguard.

LHA appeals

If you have claimed Local Housing Allowance (LHA) and you

  • do not understand the award
  • want us to provide a statement of reasons detailing how the award was calculated
  • want us to further explain our decision or look at it again

then you can ask us for an explanation or reconsideration.

This must be done within one month of the date of the LHA award notice / payment direct letter.

If you are unhappy with the explanation or reconsideration you can submit an appeal that will be heard by an independent appeals tribunal. If you are a landlord / agent and have had a request for direct payment of LHA to you rejected, you may appeal this decision.

There is no right of appeal against the LHA rates that the Rent Service Scotland sets.

Related Pages
Contact Us
  • By Post: 
    Private Sector Benefits Team
    Finance Services
    Falkirk One Stop Shop
    Callendar Square Shopping Centre
    High Street
    FK1 IUJ
  • By Telephone:
    01324 506900
  • By Email: