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Local Housing Allowance - A Guide for Tenants

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This page is designed to let you know:

  • what Local Housing Allowance is;
  • which tenants are affected by Local Housing Allowance;
  • which tenants are not affected by Local Housing Allowance;
  • how we work out Local Housing Allowance; and
  • how we pay Local Housing Allowance.

What is Local Housing Allowance?

Local Housing Allowance is a government scheme for working out Housing Benefit for tenants who pay their rent to a private landlord.  It was introduced nationally on 7th April 2008.

It is based on:

  • who lives with you;
  • what money you have coming in; and
  • what savings you have.

Who will Local Housing Allowance affect?
 
The change will only affect you if you rent your home from a private landlord and you:

  • make a new claim for Housing Benefit or
  • are already claiming Housing Benefit and you change your address.

Who will not be affected by Local Housing Allowance?

The new rules will not apply to you if:

  • you rent your home from a housing association;
  • your rent has been registered as a 'fair rent';
  • your tenancy started before January 1989;
  • you live somewhere where you are provided with care, support or supervision and your landlord is a registered charity or housing association;
  • you live in a caravan, houseboat or hostel; and
  • you live in accommodation where the rent officer decides that a large part of the rent is for board and lodgings (such as providing meals).

Why did the Government introduce Local Housing Allowance?

Local Housing Allowance gives tenants more choice in where they live and it's fairer too. This is because with Local Housing Allowance you:

  • will be entitled to the same amount of benefit as other people in the same circumstances as you;
  • can find out the rate of Local Housing Allowance you qualify for, before you decide to rent a property;
  • can decide how much of your benefit you want to spend on renting a property;
  • will usually get your benefit paid direct to you - it is then up to you to pay the rent to your landlord; and
  • will find out how much Housing Benefit you are entitled to more quickly than before.

How do we work out your entitlement to Local Housing Allowance?

The Rent Registration Service for Dundee set rates for Local Housing Allowance based on rent charges in the local area. You can get these rates from any of our enquiry offices.

Unlike the present system, Local Housing Allowance rates will not be set in line with the size of your property - they will be set in line with the number of bedrooms your household needs. The rates will not take account of any other rooms in your home.  Once the Rent Registration Service have set your rate, it will apply for the next year, unless your household circumstances change and this affects the rate of Local Housing Allowance you qualify for.

There will be a set of rates, starting from a rate for one-bedroom in a property with shared facilities upwards. (By shared facilities we mean you have a bedroom of your own and share some or all of the other rooms of the property with another person or people.)  The maximum rate that can be awarded is the four bedroom rate.

The Rent Registration Service will base conditions relating to the size of your home on allowing one bedroom for:

  • every adult couple (adult means someone who is age 16 or over);
  • any other adult;
  • any two children (a child is someone under 16) who are both girls or both boys;
  • any two children under 10 years old, no matter whether they are girls or boys; and
  • any other child.

To find out how many bedrooms you are entitled to, enter your household composition into our Bedroom Entitlement Calculator.

Special rules for people who live on their own

If you are under 35 years of age, live on your own and make a new claim for Housing Benefit, you will usually only be entitled to the shared room rate of Local Housing Allowance.  If you are over 35 years of age, live on your own and claim Housing Benefit you will usually only be entitled to the rate of Local Housing Allowance for a property with one bedroom (this rate will also apply to couples who do not have children). 

Special rules for joint tenants

Joint tenants will receive a rate of Local Housing Allowance based on each individual tenant's family, plus any non-dependants, subtenants or boarders that make up their household. This means that joint tenants in the same property may qualify for different rates of Local Housing Allowance.

How much benefit will I receive?

Although Housing Benefit is changing, the rules for working out your actual entitlement to benefit will not change, and any amount you receive will still depend on your personal circumstances.

What if I qualify for a rate that is higher than my contractual rent?

You will be able to claim for the whole amount of your rent to be paid under Local Housing Allowance.

What if my benefit is less than my rent?

You will have to pay the extra amount to make up the full amount of your rent.

However, if you paid your rent without any support from Housing Benefit in the past year, for 13 weeks you will be entitled to Housing Benefit that will cover your full rent, without any restrictions.

Also, if someone in your household dies and the new Local Housing Allowance scheme would mean you will receive less benefit, we will continue to pay the higher benefit entitlement for 52 weeks from the date of the death.

How will I be paid?

In the past, many tenants have asked us to pay their Housing Benefit direct to their landlord. However, under the new Local Housing Allowance scheme, we will normally pay your benefit entitlement to you.  Your Housing Benefit will be paid direct into your bank account.

If you do not already have a bank account you may want to open one. That way you will be able to pay your rent to your landlord by direct debit or standing order. You can get advice about opening an account from any bank or building society. You can get a list of banks which offer basic accounts from one of our enquiry offices.

However, if you are worried about managing your money, ask us if we can help.  In special cases we may still be able to pay your benefit to your landlord.

Where can I find out more about Local Housing Allowance?

If you want to talk about anything relating to Local Housing Allowance by visiting one of our enquiry offices.

Or, you can phone us on 01382 431205.   Calls may be recorded for quality and training purposes.

You can also write to us at :-
Dundee City Council
Revenues Division
PO Box 216
Dundee DD1 3YJ

Getting independent advice

If you would like advice from someone who does not work for our Revenues Division, you can contact the organisations below :-

Citizens' Advice Bureau
Central Library
The Wellgate
Dundee DD1 1DB

Dundee North Law Centre
101 Whitfield Drive
Dundee DD4 0DX
Tel: 01382 307230
Fax: 01382 504332

Shelter Housing Aid Centre
1 Courthouse Square
Dundee DD1 1NH
Tel: 0808 800 4444

Welfare Rights
Suite A
Market Mews
Market Street
Dundee DD1 3LA
Tel: 01382 431167