How we calculate your Local Housing Allowance

Updated: 10 Dec 2018
LHA rates are based on the number of bedrooms needed
Private housing
LHA rates are based on the number of bedrooms a tenant and their household needs; this is called the size criteria, and is described below.
We will review LHAs regularly and they will be published on this website. But the LHA rate paid to tenants will only be reviewed annually, or when there is a change in circumstances which would cause a different LHA to apply.
A claimant or landlord cannot appeal against the levels of LHA we set.

The size criteria

The size criteria sets out the size of property that a tenant needs for their household. This is based on number of bedrooms only and does not take account of any other rooms in a property (for example kitchens, bathrooms and living rooms). Once a tenant knows how many bedrooms are allowed for their household, they can find out the maximum LHA rate for a property of that size in area(s) that they want to live in.
For most households the applicable LHA rate depends on the number of bedrooms that can be allocated for their household:
One bedroom is allocated for:
  • every adult couple
  • every other adult aged 16 or over
  • any two children of the same sex
  • any two children regardless of sex under age 10
  • any other child.
Other rooms, such as living rooms, kitchens and bathrooms are not counted.

Shared accommodation rate for single people under 35

The LHA rate is actually based on the number of bedrooms that are needed, not the size of the property occupied. However, most single people under 35 are only entitled to the LHA rate for a room in shared accommodation, even if they live in a self contained property.
The shared rate LHA is set for properties where some or all facilities are shared, for example bathrooms, kitchens and living rooms.
Single under 35s are however known as young individuals. Some people not classed as young individuals can get the LHA rate for self contained accommodation. These are:
  • a single person aged under 35 who is entitled to a severe disability premium
  • young people leaving care, up to their 22nd birthday.
Some people under 35 may be exempt from the shared accommodation restriction if they:-
  • have spent at least three months in a homeless hostel or hostel specialising in rehabilitating and  resettling within the community. To benefit from this exemption you need to have been offered and accepted support services to enable you to be rehabilitated or resettled in the community.
  • are managed under active multi-agency management under the Public Protection Arrangements for Northern Ireland.
If you think either of these exemptions apply to you contact your local Housing Benefit office.

Single people over 35 and couples without children including joint tenants

The LHA rate is actually based on the number of bedrooms that are needed, not the size of the property occupied. The exception to this is where a single claimant or couple has only one room of their own and shares the living room, kitchen and bathroom with others. In this situation the tenant’s Housing Benefit would be calculated using the shared room rate of Local Housing Allowance.

Thirteen week protection

If you have been able to pay your rent without claiming Housing Benefit in the 52 weeks before claiming LHA, your actual rent can be used to calculate your Housing Benefit, if your rent is higher than the applicable LHA rate. But this protection only lasts for thirteen weeks from the date of your LHA claim.

Examples of the size criteria in practice

  • Anna is 31 and lives on her own in a one bedroom flat. She is entitled to the shared LHA rate.
  • Bruno is 19. He is a care leaver. He lives on his own in a one bedroom flat. He is entitled to the one bedroom LHA rate – but only until his 22nd birthday. He is then entitled to the shared room rate only.
  • Karen is 18. She is married to Dee. They have a three month old baby, Eva. Karen’s mother Frances lives with them. They are entitled to the LHA rate for a 3 bedroom property:
    • one bedroom for Karen and Dee
    • one for Eva
    • one for Frances.
  • George is 30. He is single and has four children, Hannah aged 16, Ian aged 14, Jennifer aged 10 and Carl aged 6. He is entitled to the LHA rate for a 4 bedroom property:
    • one bedroom for himself
    • one bedroom for Hannah
    • one bedroom for Jennifer
    • one bedroom for Ian and Carl.

Foster carers

Foster children do not count as part of a foster carer’s household, therefore no bedrooms are allocated for them under the size criteria.

Person with no recourse to public funds

If a person is classified as a person from abroad:
  • they cannot be the claimant for LHA
  • they are counted as a member of the household when working out how many bedrooms are allowed under the size criteria.
(If you think you may be classified as a ‘person from abroad’ please contact your district office).

Joint tenants

Each joint tenant is entitled to the LHA rate for themselves and their household including any non dependants, subtenants or boarders.
For example, Sally and Yvonne are joint tenants. Yvonne’s mother Iris lives with them. Yvonne is entitled to the two room rate. Her LHA is reduced by a non dependant deduction for Iris. Sally is entitled to the shared room rate.

Joint tenants with a shared non dependant

Joint tenants who share a non dependant will have the non dependant counted for both tenant’s size criteria, and will have the non dependant deduction apportioned between them.
For example, John and Alex are joint tenant brothers whose father, Peter also lives with them. John and Alex will each be entitled to a two bedroom rate of LHA. This is because their father Peter is counted as a member of each of their households. However the non dependant deduction for Peter is apportioned between John and Alex as they share the non dependant.

Absent parents

The size criteria does not allow for an extra bedroom for either an absent parent who comes to stay in the household where the children live, or for extra bedrooms for the children to stay with the absent parent.