This is known as Local Housing Allowance (LHA). This is the equivalent of Housing Benefit (which Council tenants can get) for private tenants.
- Why was LHA introduced?
- How do you calculate LHA?
- Where can I find out the LHA rates that apply for my area?
- How many bedrooms am I allowed?
- What if I am a joint tenant?
- What if my rent is higher than my LHA?
- What if I am having problems paying my rent?
- How is LHA paid?
- What if I am overpaid?
- How can I appeal?
- What information do we need from landlords and agents?
- When is LHA paid to landlords and agents?
- I don't agree with my tenant's award. What can I do?
- My tenant has a shortfall between their rent and their LHA. Can they get help?
- As a landlord or agent, how do you decide if I am a fit and proper person?
- What information can you share with me as a landlord or agent?
- How can I appeal a decision as a landlord or agent?
- What if my tenant falls behind with payments?
- What other protection is in place for me as a landlord or agent?
- What if I, as a landlord or agent, have or need a liaison officer?
- How do I report changes?
- How do I report someone claiming financial help they are not entitled to?
Why was LHA introduced?
LHA was introduced:
- To make Housing Benefit payments fair to those with similar circumstances
- To allow you to choose between the price and quality of your home
- To make it easier for you and landlords to find out how much could be paid by LHA before you decide to commit to a tenancy
- To make you take personal responsibility for budgeting and paying your rent
- To encourage you to have your payments paid into a bank account and set up a standing order or direct debit to pay rent to your landlord
- If you start working, to give you the confidence that any in-work benefit will be paid quickly.
How do you calculate LHA?
There are three steps to calculating how much LHA you will be paid:
- We decide how many bedrooms you are entitled to and which LHA rate will apply
- We check the broad rental market area LHA rates
- We find out if you are entitled to the full amount of benefit
The amount of benefit you get is affected by any money you have coming into your household, any savings you or your partner have and anyone living in the house who is not you, your partner, a child or a young person.
The Rent Service Scotland has set a single broad rental market area for Forth Valley. This includes Falkirk, Stirling and Clackmannan. This area has a single set of LHA rates. There is a small area near Linlithgow where the West Lothian area rates apply.
Where can I find out the LHA rates that apply for my area?
The LHA rates have been set by the Rent Service Scotland and are reviewed on 01 April every year. We take the new levels into account from then and during the year if there are certain changes in your household circumstances such as the number of people in your home changes or you move house.
How many bedrooms am I allowed?
Size criteria guidance tells us the number of bedrooms you need for your household. Once you know how many bedrooms you are allowed, you can work out the maximum LHA rate for a home of that size in the area you want to live.
You are allowed one bedroom for:
- Every adult couple (married or unmarried)
- Any other adult (aged 16 or over)
- Any two children under 10
- Any two children of the same sex aged 10 to 15
- Any other child
- A non resident carer who stays overnight:
- You must get Attendance Allowance or Disability Living Allowance at the highest or middle rate
- Your carer must provide overnight care or assistance on a regular basis
- Your carer is given use of a bedroom
- Your carer doesn’t live with you permanently
You may be allowed an extra bedroom if:
- You are an approved foster carer and you:
- Have a foster child living with you
- Became an approved foster carer in the last 12 months
- Are in between placements (for a maximum of 52 weeks from the date of the last placement)
- You have an adult child in the armed forces who normally lives with you
- You need an extra bedroom for a child who can’t share because of their severe disabilities
If you are single and over 35, or a couple with no children, you will get the one bedroom rate if you have exclusive use of two or more rooms, or exclusive use of one bedroom, and a toilet or bathroom and a kitchen. If you don’t, the shared one room rate will apply.
If you are entitled to a severe disability premium in your Income Support of Housing Benefit award, you will qualify for the one room rate.
What if I am a joint tenant?
If you live with someone and both your names are on the tenancy agreement, you are classed as joint tenants. You will get the LHA rate for your own household. This does not include the family of your joint tenant unless you are related.
What if my rent is higher than my LHA?
What if I am having problems paying my rent?
If you are having problems paying your rent, you may be able to apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP).
We may be able to pay LHA directly to your landlord to help you get or keep your tenancy. We may also pay it to your landlord if you are having problems with managing your money, paying your rent or if you are 8 weeks or more in arrears with your rent.
If you would like us to pay your landlord or agent, please complete a payment direct request form (PDF, 92KB).
How is LHA paid?
You must manage your rent in the same way as other tenants do. LHA will be paid into your bank account, 2 weeks in arrears. You may want to set up a bank or building society account so you can pay your rent to your landlord automatically by 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.
What if I am overpaid?
If we decide to recover an overpayment from you, we will tell you the amount and how we will recover it.
How can I appeal?
If you don't understand your award, or would like more information about how your award was calculated, you can ask us to look at it again by completing a Review/Appeal form (PDF, 60KB).
You must request this within one month of the date on your LHA award notice or payment direct letter. If you are still unhappy, you can appeal to the independent appeals tribunal.
You cannot appeal against the LHA rates set by Rent Service Scotland.
What information do we need from landlords and agents?
We need to see written notices of a rent increase, any changes to service charges or any changes to tenancy agreements. We also need your contact details, including a landline number, mobile number or email address.
When is LHA paid to landlords and agents?
We make payments by BACS transfer or cheque to you 4-weekly in arrears. Where the tenant is paid, they are paid fortnightly in arrears.
We normally create payments each Wednesday. BACS payments will reach bank accounts within 2 working days. If you are paid by cheque, the cheque should be with you the day after it was posted. If you are currently paid by cheque but would prefer to be paid by BACS transfer, please let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are paid direct, we will give you a landlord schedule which lists your payments. If you don't receive your schedule you can request a copy by emailing email@example.com.
If you haven't received a payment, but you know your tenant has made a claim, there could be several reasons. High risk claims are reviewed on a regular basis, to ensure that claimants circumstances have not changed. When a review is underway, payment may be put on hold.
For every new claim, tenants have to provide proof of identity, income and savings, and of rent and residency. We cannot make a decision if we do not have this information.
I don't agree with my tenant's award. What can I do?
If we are paying you as a landlord or agent and you have questions about the amount, we can tell you:
- The length of the award
- The amount and how often it will be paid
- If there is an overpayment being recovered
We can also give you information about the LHA rate that has used to calculate your tenant’s benefit.
My tenant has a shortfall between their rent and their LHA. Can they get help?
If your tenant is struggling to pay they can apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP). If you email us we will post your tenant a DHP form. We can also provide you with blank LHA, Housing Benefit and DHP claim forms if you think it would help your tenants.
As a landlord or agent, how do you decide if I am a fit and proper person?
We won't make direct payments to you unless we are happy that you are 'a fit and proper' person to receive payments. You are not classed as 'fit and proper' if it has been proven you have:
- Committed Housing Benefit fraud
- Knowingly failed to declare changes in your circumstances affecting the payment of LHA
- Failed to pay council tax or business rates
- Carried out any other financial impropriety.
What information can you share with me as a landlord or agent?
We will only be able to tell you that your tenant has made a claim for help if they give us permission to do so.
We can't tell you:
- Details of individual household members or the actual income or savings of anyone living in the property
- The tenant's new address if they vacate your property
We can tell you if we have suspended payment of benefit but not the reason. You will need to contact your tenant, or ask your tenant to contact us.
If you want to know any of these details or want to act on behalf of your tenant, you must complete our Sharing Information form (PDF, 58KB). You must get your tenant to sign it and send it to us before we can give out any information.
How can I appeal a decision as a landlord or agent?
If we decide not to make direct payments to you, or to recover an overpayment from you, you can appeal. You must do this within one month of receiving the letter telling you of our decision.
You can appeal by completing a Review/Appeal form (PDF, 60KB). You cannot appeal against the LHA rates set by the Rent Service Scotland.
What if my tenant falls behind with payments?
If a tenant has rent arrears of 8 weeks or more, we must pay their LHA to you. When we are told a tenant is in arrears, we take the following action:
- No further payments will be made to the tenant. We will pay you for a maximum of 8 weeks while we investigate
- We will contact the tenant to check if they agree that they are in arrears and that they are not reasonably withholding rent from you
- If there is not a dispute, and the tenant agrees that they have arrears, we will continue to pay their LHA to you until the arrears are cleared
- We will review our decision and will ask for up to date details of your tenant's rent account.
We need to have enough evidence of arrears so that we can make an informed decision to make payments to you. You can use an LHA payment direct request form (PDF, 92KB). We will send you a form to complete.
What other protection is in place for me as a landlord or agent?
There are other instances where we can pay you your tenant's LHA and each case is considered individually. You must complete an LHA payment direct request form (PDF, 92KB). We will send you a form to complete.
You can apply to have your tenant's LHA payments paid directly to you if:
- You think your tenant is unlikely to pay their rent and it may affect them getting or keeping their tenancy
- Your tenant’s state benefits such as Income Support or Jobseeker’s Allowance is reduced to pay rent arrears
- You set or reduce a tenant's rent to the same rate as LHA, to make the property affordable to them or to help them in get or keep their tenancy
We can also make your tenant’s first payment to you where we decide it is appropriate to do so.
Your tenant may also be able to apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) for extra help.
We need to know if your tenant is having, or is likely to have, problems managing their money and paying their rent. If your tenant would like us to pay their LHA to you, please ask them to complete the Tenant LHA payment direct request form (PDF, 102KB) and return it to us.
What if I, as a landlord or agent, have or need a liaison officer?
If you have a liaison officer, you will be sent a letter with their contact details. Please email your questions directly to them. Please don't contact us by phone unless you have an urgent enquiry - for example, your tenant is facing eviction.
We aim to respond to you within 2 working days of your enquiry.
If you don't have a liaison officer but need one, please write to us. You must tell us the number of properties you own or manage, the number of tenants you have, the number of tenants currently claiming Housing Benefit and how often you contact us each week.
How do I report changes?
How do I report someone claiming financial help they are not entitled to?
If you know someone is getting financial help they are not entitled to, for example housing benefit, council tax reduction etc, use our Fraud page to report it.