Local Housing Allowance:
Information for Isle of Wight Landlords

From April 08 Local Housing Allowance (LHA) is being introduced. This is for tenants who rent properties from private landlords.

What is Local Housing Allowance?

LHA is a new way of working out Housing Benefit. LHA is for people on a low income who rent from private landlords. LHA is based on the number of rooms people are allowed, not how much the rent is. The number of rooms allowed depends on who lives with the tenant. Ask your local council for more details about this.

Which landlords are affected by Local Housing Allowance?

LHA affects any landlord who enters into a deregulated private tenancy agreement with a person awarded Housing Benefit. By deregulated we mean entered into since 1989 and not covered by one of the exceptions listed below.

Who is not affected by Local Housing Allowance?

LHA does not affect:
˜ local authority landlords who let to ‘council tenants’
˜ tenancies with registered social landlords
˜ protected cases, such as supported housing provided by certain local authorities, social landlords, charities and voluntary organisations
˜ tenancies which are excluded from current rent restrictions
˜ tenancies in caravans, houseboats and hostels
˜ tenancies where the rent officer decides that a substantial part of the rent is for board and attendance, such as hotel accommodation.

How does Local Housing Allowance affect landlords?

The only change for most landlords is that LHA will be paid to the tenant. The tenant will be responsible for paying their rent to the landlord.
In recognition of the risk that some tenants may struggle with the responsibility of paying their rent, safeguards are in place. Rather than introduce a precise list of circumstances when payment could be made to the landlord, the Council will use it's discretion in identifying such cases.
The Council can decide to make payment direct to a landlord in a number of circumstances including:
  • if they consider that the tenant is likely to have difficulty managing their own affairs. We have called this ‘vulnerability’. Examples of this could include tenants with a learning disorder or a drug or alcohol problem that would mean they may have problems managing a budget.
  • if they think the tenant is unlikely to use their LHA to pay their rent. This could be if the council knows the tenant has consistently failed to pay their rent in the past
  • when the LHA has been backdated or there has been a delay in processing a claim and a large amount of benefit is to be paid. In these cases the Council can decide to make the first payment of LHA by cheque payable to the landlord, although it would be sent to the claimant. (This is the same as Housing Benefit Regulation 94.) Making the first payment direct to the landlord is also expected to provide a good indication that the tenancy has actually been established
  • if the tenant has built up rent arrears of eight weeks or more and payment direct to the landlord has been implemented (under current Housing Benefit regulations), the Council can decide to continue making payments direct to the landlord after the arrears have fallen below eight weeks.
  • if the tenant is having deductions from their Income Support or Jobseeker’s Allowance to pay off rent arrears.
To implement any of these safeguards, new and existing, the council must have documented evidence. There is an application form to complete, to help keep this process simple and provide all the relevant information. You can get further information on LHA from the Housing Benefit Section at the Council by telephoning 01983 823950.

Page last updated on: 01/04/2010