Local Housing Allowance (LHA) is Housing Benefit that helps pay the rent if you are on a low income and rent from a private landlord.
LHA is based on the rent levels for the area and how many people there are living in the household, not the actual rent charged for the property. It is designed to give you choice between the quality and the price of your accommodation.
If the actual rent charged is greater than the LHA, you will have to pay the difference to the landlord.
In most cases payment will be made direct to the tenant and it is their responsibility to pay the rent to the landlord. We recognise that some people may struggle with this responsibility and help is available.
LHA is reviewed annually alongside other benefits being assessed. You can ask for a review if your rent increases or decreases.
Who's not affected?
Local Housing Allowance does not affect all tenancies.
You will not be affected if:
- Your accommodation is rented from the council
- Your accommodation is rented from a housing association
- Your tenancy is excluded from current rent restrictions
- Your tenancy includes the provision of care, support or supervision and is provided by local authorities, social landlords, charities or voluntary organisations
- Your tenancy includes substantial board and attendance, such as hotel accommodation
- Your accommodation is a caravan, mobile home or houseboat.
In these cases your rent level will usually be referred to the Rent Officer of the Valuation Office Agency (external link) so they can establish if your rent level is fair before Housing Benefit is paid.
How will I be paid?
Payments will be paid directly into your bank account every 4 weeks. If you do not have a bank account or would like advice on how to open one there are organisations who can help including:
These organisations can also help with debt advice and managing your money in general.
Can we pay your landlord?
We recognise that there are circumstances where it may not be appropriate to pay the tenant, these include:
- Where the tenant has 8 weeks rent arrears or more
- Where the tenant is having deductions being taken from their Income Support, Jobseekers Allowance (income based), Employment and Support Allowance to pay off rent arrears
- Where the tenant is unlikely to pay
- Where the tenant is unable to manage their affairs.
If you would like us to consider making payments to your landlord, complete and return the form below:
Evidence will need to be provided to support your application as payments will only be made to the landlord if there is good cause.
Each case is looked at individually and any decisions to make landlord payments will be subject to review.
How much might I receive?
The size criteria
One bedroom for:
- Every adult couple
- Any other adult aged 16 or over
- Any two children regardless of gender aged under 10
- Any two children of the same gender aged up to 15
- Any other child.
For single tenants under 35 years old there will be a 'shared' rate of LHA that replaces the single room rent. This rate will also apply to single people over 35 and couples with no other occupiers who chose to live in shared accommodation.
There are no changes to the housing benefit entitlement rules, this is still based on the person's individual circumstances. The LHA rate is only the starting point of the calculation.
How is it worked out?
The tables below show the amount you could expect to receive if you were entitled to full benefit. There are two rates for Wigan and the amount you receive will be based on where you live.
If you live in Ashton or Billinge and your postcode begins WN4 or WN5 we may work out your claim using the weekly rate for the St Helens area.
Check which area your postcode would come under by visiting the Rent Service website (external link).
LHA current rates
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What should I do if I can no longer afford to pay my rent?
If your benefit is due to go down, it is very important that you act now to plan how you will manage these changes.
We recommend you talk to your landlord as soon as possible to see whether they will reduce the rent on your property. As an incentive we can pay your Housing Benefit directly to your landlord if they agree to reduce the rent charged to an affordable level.
If it’s not possible to renegotiate your rent you could either make up the shortfall yourself or start looking for cheaper shared accommodation. You might want to talk about your situation with the Wigan and Leigh Homes Property Shop (external link) or Citizens Advice (external link).
We may also be able to help you meet the gap between your benefit entitlement and the rent you pay by awarding a discretionary housing payment.
The amount of money available for these payments is limited so we will have to consider your circumstances carefully.