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Local housing allowance FAQ

Local housing allowance FAQ

Frequently asked questions about the local housing allowance (LHA)



Local housing allowance is a new way to calculate housing benefit based on:

  • the number of bedrooms you need
  • the area in which you live
  • any income or savings you have
  • who lives with you

Instead of the actual rent, housing benefit is calculated using a rate based on the number of bedrooms you need.

The Rent Service, an agency of the Department for Work and Pensions which specialises in rental valuations, supplies us with the local housing allowance rates, based on the number of bedrooms in a property. These rates come from the level of rent generally paid for properties of that size in the Chesterfield area.

The same rates will apply wherever you choose to live within the Chesterfield Borough area. However, other areas have different rates. You can check what they are if you are thinking of moving.

We publish these rates on our website and in our reception area. Other councils must publish their rates too.

This is worked out based on who lives with you. We cannot include anyone who normally lives elsewhere, for example a carer, or visiting children.

One bedroom is allowed for:

  • every adult couple
  • any other adult aged 16 or over
  • any two children aged under 10
  • any two children of the same sex
  • any other child

If you are single and aged under 35, your Housing Benefit will be assessed using the shared accommodation rate.

If you are single, aged over 35, or a couple with no one else living with you, and you live in shared accommodation, the shared rate will also apply to you.

Use this guide on the Directgov website to see how many bedrooms your household can claim for and the broad market rent for your address.

Please note: These rates are a guide to the maximum amount of benefit you can get. Once you claim, we will look at your family circumstances and finances to calculate entitlement. From 6 April 2009 any household requiring six bedrooms or more will have their Housing Benefit calculated using the five bedroom rate.

The following are not affected:

  • council tenants
  • tenants of registered social landlords (housing associations)

It won’t apply, even if you are a tenant of a private landlord, if:

  • you are a tenant who has a registered or "fair" rent
  • you have a tenancy that started before 1989
  • you live in a caravan, mobile home, hostel or houseboat
  • your rent includes a charge for meals
  • your landlord provides care, support or supervision, and meets certain criteria
  • you already receive Housing Benefit, until you change address or have to make a new claim
  • your claim is continuous since before 7 April 2008

The arrangements apply to tenants of private landlords claiming housing benefit from 7 April 2008.

The changes affect:

  • those making a new claim
  • those moving to a private let
  • anyone in a private let, who has a break in housing benefit entitlement of at least one week

We will use the rate supplied by the Rent Service for a year. Any change to the rate at the end of each year will be incorporated into your housing benefit assessment. Changes to your household, which alter the number of bedrooms you need, will change your benefit. The effective date is the same for this change as it is for any other. Click here to tell us about a change in circumstances. Delay telling us and you might lose out.

Housing Benefit is paid into your bank account and you will be responsible for paying the rent to your landlord. We may also pay by cheque. Cheques can be issued to you in the name of your landlord.

If your rent is more than your Housing Benefit, you have to make up the difference.

  • We can pay your benefit quickly and securely.
  • You will have the money available on the day it arrives in your bank account.
  • You still get paid on time if there is a postal delay.
  • You do not have to wait for your cheque to clear.
  • It reduces our bank charges which makes us better value for money.

Don’t worry, you may still be able to open an account called a Basic Bank account. You will not be able to go overdrawn. All major banks and building societies operate these accounts. Using standing orders and direct debits can help with money management. Payments by bank credit straight into your account means that you won’t have to wait for cheques to clear.

Opening a Bank Account (pdf 98 KB)

We may be able to help you provide identification to open one of these accounts. Please ask us for more information.

The Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) provide money advice and can help with budgeting and money management. If you want to use this service call in to the Chesterfield CAB. Their address is:

6 – 8 Broad Pavement
Chesterfield
S40 1RP

Tel: 01246 209 164

You can also get information on opening a bank account from the Financial Service Authority on 0845 606 1234 or at www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk.

Housing Benefit cannot be paid into a Post Office Card Account like some other benefits.

We have to pay your housing benefit to your landlord if you have rent arrears of 8 weeks or more.

We can also pay your landlord if you have difficulty managing your affairs or we feel you are unlikely to pay your rent.

Local Housing Allowance Safeguards Policy (pdf 79 KB)


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Last updated on 13 November 2015