From 7 April 2008 if you make a new Housing Benefit claim for privately rented accommodation you will be claiming Local Housing Allowance (LHA).
LHA is a new type of benefit that means you can find out in advance the amount of rent that will be used to decide Housing Benefit. This is because LHA is a flat-rate based on the size of accommodation you need and the location of the property you are renting or thinking of renting.
The LHA sets the amount of rent that will be used to decide benefit and the final entitlement depends on your income and capital. LHA will also normally be paid direct to you and not the landlord - see the section below about the Council's LHA Safeguard Policy which explains in more detail the circumstances that allow the Council to pay your landlord direct.
If you are already getting Housing Benefit for private rented accommodation on 7 April 2008, you will only switch to LHA if you change address or break your claim. So, it is very important that you contact us for more detailed information about LHA if you are thinking of moving or breaking your claim for any reason.
LHA does not affect tenants in the social sector - Council and Housing Association tenants.
To get more information on LHA telephone us on 0800 072 0042 or you can download a leaflet.
To find out the LHA rates click on the link below to access the Rent Service website. To find the rates for Westminster search for "City of Westminster". The website also explains the number of rooms that are used to decide LHA.
The Council has developed a policy to safeguard the position of LHA recipients who may have difficulty in handling their own financial affairs. In some limited circumstances payment of LHA can be made to the landlord. The policy document attached below will tell you more.
As mentioned LHA will normally be paid to the claimant. This will mean that you must have a bank account. For more information on basic bank accounts visit the Financial Services Authority website or you can pick up a leaflet from one of the Council's Benefit offices.