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Information for landlords

Local Housing Allowance (LHA) is the way of working out Housing Benefit for people who live in the private rented sector. The LHA rates are set by the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) every month and are calculated from average rents within the Broad Rental Market Area. St Helens currently has three Broad Rental Market Areas, which cover its boundaries. These are:

St Helens, North Cheshire and Wigan

The amount of LHA a tenant can receive is calculated from the number of bedrooms they are allowed (not the amount of rent charged). This depends on who lives with the tenant, and the LHA rate for the Broad Rental Market Area where the property is situated.

The number of bedrooms allowed is calculated as follows:

One bedroom for:

  • every adult couple (married or unmarried)    
  • any other adult aged 16 or over
  • any two children of the same sex aged under 16    
  • any two children aged under 10
  • any other child  
  • a carer who normally lives elsewhere.

If your tenant is aged under 35 or shares the accommodation with others, they may only get the Shared LHA rate.

If they have a large family and need 5 bedrooms or more, they will only be able to get the maximum 4 bedroom rate of LHA.

The current LHA rates are available for viewing, and are updated periodically.

We will consider making payment to the landlord if the tenant can demonstrate that they are unable to manage their financial affairs. This may include people with medical conditions, severe debt problems or any of the following:

  • learning disabilities
  • mental health problems
  • drug, gambling or alcohol addictions
  • fleeing domestic violence
  • prison leavers
  • care leavers / single under 25s and homeless
  • undischarged bankruptcy
  • those who have entered into an Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA)
  • those who are having deductions made from their Social Security benefits
  • those whose first language is not English.

The list is not exhaustive, and there may be other reasons as to why a tenant is unable to manage their affairs. Each case will be considered on its own merits. We will usually ask for written evidence in support of the application. This may be from a GP, Social Services or Department for Work and Pensions, financial institutions or The Court Service, Citizens Advice Bureau or other welfare rights organisations.

If you think your tenant will have difficulty managing their affairs and paying their rent to you, please complete and submit the application for "Payment of Local Housing Allowance direct to the landlord". You must complete this application with your tenant's knowledge and consent.

If your tenant is currently the equivalent of 8 weeks or more in arrears with their rent, or you are concerned with continual missed payments, you can ask the council to consider making direct payment to you.

We will need to see evidence, by way of a rent account statement, showing of the amount of rent charged, any pattern of missed payments and the current level of rent arrears outstanding.

If your tenant currently has 8 weeks or more of arrears or you have concerns with regard to continual missed payments, please complete and submit the Rent Arrears Referral form.

 

In most cases, Local Housing Allowance will be paid direct to the tenant. It will be the tenant's responsibility to pay their rent on time to their landlord.

We recognise that some tenants may have difficulty in managing their affairs or with the responsibility for payment of their rent. In these circumstances, we will decide if it is appropriate or in the tenants best interest to make payment to the landlord.

However, we must make payment to the landlord where the tenant is the equivalent to 8 weeks or more in arrears with the rent or, they are having deductions made from their Income Support or Job Seekers Allowance for rent arrears.

As part of the assessment to the entitlement to receive payments of Housing Benefit or Discretionary Housing Payments, St Helens Council will collect personal data about you as a landlord.  

What Information do we hold?

  • Name, address, address history and gender
  • Contact details, including telephone numbers and email addresses
  • Details of your tenancy agreement including tenant details and the amount of rent payable
  • Bank account details
  • Statements or evidence you provide to demonstrate rent arrears exist.
  • Online portal registration details if you register for an online account or e-notifications.

Who is processing my data?

All personal data we hold is treated as confidential and will be held securely in accordance with data protection legislation. It will only be used for the assessment of direct payment of  Housing Benefit and Discretionary Housing Payments unless otherwise stated.

The Council has contracts with suppliers who may process your data on our behalf and are designated data processors. Contracts include: software suppliers; hybrid mail providers; scanning bureau; and debt collection agencies.

Legal basis for processing your data

The legal basis for processing your data is:

  • the Housing Benefit Regulations
  • the Discretionary Financial Assistance Regulations 2001

The Council has a duty to protect the public funds it administers and may use the information provided for the prevention and detection of fraud. It may also share this information with the Department for Work and Pensions, or other bodies administering public funds solely for these purposes.

How do we use the information we hold about you?

We collect information about you:

  • to use bank account information to process payments of Housing Benefit / Discretionary Housing Payment being made directly to you, the landlord
  • to allow the Council to communicate with you including the take-up of relevant services
  • to protect public funds including: the prevention and detection of fraud.

Who we will share your information with and why

We will only disclosure information to other bodies where it is allowed by law. This includes:

  • Internal use - other services within St Helens Council for the purpose of holding accurate records in respect of residency or where it is allowed for by law.
  • Your representatives - including but not limited to appointees, Members of Parliament, Councillors, where you have provided consent.
  • Courts – for recovery purposes
  • The Department for Work and Pensions and HMRC – for statistical and analytical purposes
  • Collection agents authorised to collect debt in accordance with agreed contracts.
  • Fraud prevention – including the National Fraud Initiative and National Anti-Fraud Network.
  • Other contractors – where we have a legal agreement for them to process your data on our behalf.
  • Tribunals and ombudsman – in response to appeals or complaints made by you the landlord or your tenant.
  • Police, law enforcement agencies and prosecuting authorities - for the prevention or investigation of crime

Transfers out of EU

  • No data will be transferred or held outside the EU.

We will receive information from the following sources

  • Your tenant if they make a claim for Housing Benefit or request a Discretionary Housing Payment
  • Other organisations, including government departments, where we have a legal right to request information or to verify information you have provided.

How long do we retain your information for

  • Application forms and other information that you provide in respect of direct payments of Housing Benefit or where a Discretionary Housing Payment is to be made to you will be retained for a maximum of six years.

Automated decision making

  • Automated decision making is where an electronic system uses personal information to make a decision without human intervention. This may occur in certain processes which meet defined criteria. Applications that fail to meet defined criteria will be reviewed manually.      
  • If you are not satisfied with a decision you have the right to ask for the decision to be reviewed. In certain circumstances, you may also be able to make an appeal to an independent tribunal.
  • Your data is not subject to automated profiling.

Your rights

For more information on your rights please visit:

https://www.sthelens.gov.uk/council/data-protection-freedom-of-information/data-protection/

These rights may be restricted subject to St Helens Council undertaking its statutory obligations in accordance with The Local Government Finance Act 1992 and other legislation.