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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:
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, or severe debt problems for example:
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.