Local housing allowance FAQs for tenants
To work out how much housing benefit you could be entitled to, use an online calculator.
The amount of benefit you can get may be affected by:
- any money you have coming in
- any savings you have
- how much your rent is
- what the broad market area rate
- how many people live with you and how old they are
How many bedrooms am I entitled to?
The number of bedrooms you are entitled to depends on how many people live with you and how old they are. You are entitled to one bedroom for each of the following:
- any adult couple
- any other person aged 16 or over
- any two children of the same sex up to the age of 16
- any two children regardless of sex under the age of 10
- any other child
We do not count other rooms such as a living room, kitchen or bathroom.
What is the shared room rate?
If you live in one room and share some facilities with other people, for example a kitchen or bathroom, there is a special local housing allowance rate for you.
This is also allocated to under 35s living on their own, unless you are a care leaver and then it will be used between the ages of 22-25 only or you are severely disabled, or for those aged 25-34 who have spent at least three months in a homeless hostel or are managed under the Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements - MAPPA.
What if my housing benefit doesn't cover my rent?
If the amount of housing benefit you are entitled to doesn't cover your rent, you will either have to move into cheaper accommodation or make up the difference yourself.
How do I get paid?
Usually you will have your benefit paid directly to you into your bank or building society account. If you do not already have a bank or building society account, you may need to set one up.
We would encourage you to set up a standing order so that your rent is paid to your landlord automatically. If you need advice about opening a bank account please contact us. You can also get advice from a welfare organisation such as Citizens Advice.
It is up to you to pay the rent to your landlord. If you don't pay your rent you may be taken to court and evicted from the property.
If you have trouble paying, we may also decide to pay your landlord direct.
When will the council make payments to the landlord?
We may decide to pay your benefit to the landlord if you fall eight weeks or more behind on your rent. There are many reasons why someone may have difficulty paying their rent. They might be because someone:
- has severe debt problems
- has a recent county court judgement against them
- is an undischarged bankrupt
- is unable to open a bank or building society account
- has some of their income support or jobseeker's allowance paid direct to the gas, electricity or water company by the Department for Work and Pensions
- is getting Supporting People help
- is getting help from a homeless charity
Or someone may have difficulty paying their rent if they:
- have learning difficulties
- have an illness that stops them managing on a day-to-day basis
- cannot read or speak English
- are addicted to drugs, alcohol or gambling
- are fleeing domestic violence
- are a care leaver
- are leaving prison
- are homeless
Who can ask for the payments to be made to the landlord?
You can ask us to pay your landlord direct. Your landlord can also approach us to pay them direct if you fall behind with your rent payments. We will contact you if your landlord contacts us.
We must have evidence from your landlord to show you are having difficulty managing your money and that it is in your interest that we pay the landlord directly.
Other organisations that may provide evidence include:
- persons acting on the tenant's behalf
- the landlord
- welfare groups (including money advisers)
- social services
- probation officers
- Jobcentre Plus
- the pension service
- homeless charities/organisations
- supporting people teams
- local/council rent deposit scheme administrators, homelessness or housing advice officers. We will work with the tenant in making our decision.
How is a decision made and what can I do?
Once we have collected evidence we will decide as quickly as possible if direct payments to the landlord are appropriate. We will still pay benefit while we are making our decision. We will write to the tenant and explain our decision. We will also write to the landlord.
If you disagree with our decision you can:
- ask us to explain the decision
- ask us to look at the decision again
- submit an appeal in writing giving the reasons you disagree with the decision
If you wish to dispute our decision you must write to us within one month of the date of the decision notification letter.
What will happen if I use my benefit for something else?
Your benefit is for you to pay your rent with. If you do not use your benefit to pay your rent, your landlord may take you to court or try to evict you and you may lose your home.
What do I do if my circumstances change?
If you are getting housing benefit and you move to a new address or other circumstances change, you should tell us straight away.
If someone moves in or out of your household you must tell us.
If somebody in your household has a significant birthday, for example they turn 16, you local housing allowance may also have to be recalculated as that person may then need an extra room.