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Who decides the LHA rates
They are decided each year, prior to April. The Department for Work and Pensions uses the LHA rates provided by the Valuation Office Agency (VOA). They gather market evidence about rents in particular areas, known as Broad Rental Market Areas (BRMAs). The LHA rates are given for numbers of bedrooms.
What LHA rates are used for
When we work out your Housing Benefit (HB) entitlement, we have to use a level of rent (known as eligible rent) as part of that calculation. The LHA rates give us a figure to work out the eligible rent that we will use.
LHA rates vary from year to year, so the date you claim HB can affect the amount of rent we used to work out your HB and therefore the amount of HB you get. The year runs from April to March.
LHA rates can also be used by you to see if the cost of rent of a home you are thinking of moving into is comparable to the LHA rate you are entitled to and whether there is likely to be a shortfall in the HB we award. This allows you to make more informed decisions about the type of accommodation you move into and whether you can afford it.
Which LHA rate is used to work out Housing Benefit
The rate of LHA used will be based on:
- the number of bedrooms you are entitled to according to the number of people living with you and their gender and ages and circumstances like disabilities and caring arrangements and
- which Broad Rental Market Area your home is located in.
How the eligible rent is worked out from the LHA rate
Your eligible rent we use to work out your Housing Benefit (HB) will be the lowest of:
- Either your rent; or
- The Local Housing Allowance rate that applies to you.
Your rent is £150 per week
The LHA rate that applies to you is £175 per week - higher than the rent charged.
The rent we will use to work out your HB is £150 per week. This is because this is the lowest of the two amounts.
Your rent is £200 per week
The LHA rate that applies to you is £175 per week.
The rent we will use to work out your HB is £175. This is because this is the lowest of the two amounts.
In this example there is a shortfall of £25.00 per week in the amount of eligible rent we will use.
If there is a shortfall in the rent charged and the maximum eligible rent we will use, you will have to decide whether you can afford to pay the difference out of your income or seek alternative accommodation.
You may be able to get discretionary housing payment if there is a shortfall, however, we will not be able to tell you before you make a claim whether you can get this.
How to work out the LHA rate that applies to you
There are 3 steps to working out the LHA rate that applies.
- Find out how many bedrooms you are entitled to
- Find out which Broad Market Rental Area you live in or are thinking of living in.
- Find the LHA rate for the year in which you are claiming, starting each April.
Step-by-step guidance is given below:
Step 1: Find out how many bedrooms you are entitled to.
- Use the GOV.UK website and click on the link called Local Housing Allowance Limit; or
- Use the VOA LHADirect website to find out how many bedrooms you are entitled to; or
- Use the complete guide to LHA April 2017 which also contains the above links web addresses.
You are entitled to one bedroom for any of the following:
(Where appropriate the relevant page number of the complete guide to LHA April 2017 is shown in brackets:)
- a single person or a lone parent (pages 7 to 9)
- a couple (page 10)
- any other adult aged 16 or over such as a non dependant, sub tenant or boarder (page 11)
- two children of the same gender aged between 10 and 16 (page 13)
- two children of either gender aged under 10 (page 13)
- any other child (page 13); and an extra bedroom for:
- a couple who cannot share a bedroom due to disability (page 10)
- you or your partner being disabled with overnight care (page 11)
- an adult child who is deployed in the armed forces (page 11)
- an approved foster carer or foster parent (page 13)
- a disabled child or non dependant with overnight care ( page 14)
- live with children who cannot be expected to share bedroom due to disability (page 14)
If you are a single person under 35 you are normally only entitled to the shared room rate of LHA. There are exemptions from this which could mean you are entitled to the higher one bedroom self-contained rate. These rules and exemptions are explained on pages 7-8. The rules for joint tenants are on page 9 of the complete guide to LHA April 2017.
Please see our LHA guides and leaflets for different formats of the guide
Step 2: Find out which Broad Market Rental Area applies
- On the VOA LHADirect website you can search for the BRMA by a postcode or by local authority
- Contact us to ask which BRMA applies, if the postcode search results give you two BRMAs.
There are three BRMAs in Merton. LHA rates vary depending on which Broad Rental Market Area (BRMA) you live in or are thinking of moving to.
The rates for the BRMAs are only valid for the year publicised. They are reviewed before each April. A new set of standard rates for the following year April to March replaces the old ones.
Step 3: Find the LHA rate for the current year
- Use our current LHA rates for 1st April 2017 to 31st March 2018 apply for claims treated as made during that period only.
- Use the VOA LHADirect website to find out what the current rates for the number of bedrooms in the BRMA you are looking at; or
- Look at our LHA rates page.
Paying Housing Benefit
We will normally pay HB to the tenant. Further information about who we pay HB to can be found on our Housing Benefit payments to private tenants page.
For more details about our opening hours and how to contact us, go to Merton Benefits Service contact page.