Local Housing Allowance
Updated: 26 Feb 2017
Local Housing Allowance (LHA) is a rent assessment scheme for those who rent accommodation in the private sector. It is based on the rent levels for the area in which you live and how many people are in your household.
Entitlement to Housing Benefit still depends on income, how many people are in the household and any savings.
Who is eligible for LHA?
LHA applies to you if you fall into the following categories:
- New claims for Housing Benefit (also including if you have stopped claiming it and reclaim) for accommodation you rent from a private landlord;
- You were already claiming Housing Benefit and you moved into a property you rent from a private landlord.
Who is not affected by LHA?
LHA does not apply to you if you have:
- a tenancy with the Housing Executive
- a tenancy with a housing association
- a tenancy where you get support from health and social services, a housing association, a charity or a voluntary organisation
- a tenancy which is not included in the current rent restrictions (these are tenancies which started before April 1996)
- a tenancy in a caravan, mobile home, houseboat or hostel
- a tenancy where your rent is restricted under the Private Tenancies Order (2006) or the 1978 Rent Order
How does LHA work?
Northern Ireland is divided into eight ‘broad rental market areas’ (BRMAs) as shown on the map.
Each BRMA covers a number of neighbourhoods and within these neighbourhoods there are different types of properties, and other places to live, located within a ‘reasonable travelling distance’ of similar public services.
The Housing Executive sets the LHA rates for different property sizes within each broad rental market area.
How much LHA do I get?
If you are looking for accommodation in Northern Ireland we publish the annual LHA rates on this website.
You can check the LHA rate that will apply for the property you’re interested in so you know the maximum amount of rent we will use to work out your Housing Benefit before you decide to rent.
Working out your LHA
The rate of LHA we use to work out your Housing Benefit depends on:
- the area you live in – this will set the BRMA you fall under; and
- who lives with you – this will decide how many bedrooms you need.
You are entitled to one bedroom for:
- every adult couple
- every other adult (an adult is someone aged 16 or over)
- any two children aged under 10
- any two children of the same sex aged 10 to 15; and
- any other child.
We do not count other rooms, such as living rooms, kitchens and bathrooms.
Under 35 and live alone
If you are single and aged under 35 you are entitled to the standard rate for a room in shared accommodation.
We base this rate on a property where you have a room of your own but you share all or some of the facilities (for example, a living room, kitchen or bathroom).
This is known as the shared-room rate.
Over 35 and live alone / a couple with no children / joint tenant
We usually base your rate of LHA on the number of bedrooms you need and not the size of the property you live in.
However, this does not apply if you only have one room of your own and share the living room, kitchen and bathroom with other people. In this situation we work out your Housing Benefit using the shared-room rate.
Is there help with paying any shortfall in my rent?
If you decide to move into a property with a rent that is higher than the rate of LHA you are entitled to you will need to pay the difference.
You may be entitled to some additional financial assistance to meet this shortfall through a Discretionary Housing Payment.
Such payments cannot be guaranteed in all cases and any award may not cover the full shortfall.
Awards are made for a limited period only and are designed to provide you with some time to come to alternative arrangements with your landlord or to find cheaper accommodation.
How often will the Housing Executive review my rate of LHA?
Your rate of LHA will apply indefinitely unless your circumstances change, for example, if people join or leave your household. In certain cases your LHA may be protected.
How is LHA paid?
You can choose if you want to receive payment directly to your bank/building society account or if you want us to pay it directly to your landlord’s account.