Rent is the regular amount you have agreed to pay your landlord to live in your home. The agreement between you and your landlord is legally enforceable. The amount of rent you have to pay will not always be used in the Housing Benefit calculation.
Local Housing Allowance (LHA)
Your Housing Benefit is assessed under the LHA scheme if:
- You move to an address with a private landlord
- Your Housing Benefit is already worked out using the LHA rates
If your rent is lower than your applicable LHA rate, then your actual rent will be used to work out your Housing Benefit. Usually you will not get more Housing Benefit than your applicable LHA rate.
The rent amount you pay may be used in the assessment for 13 weeks if you or your partner have not received Housing Benefit in the last 52 weeks and could afford the rent and all housing costs when you entered into the tenancy agreement.
The LHA rate used in your benefit assessment will be used for one year when it is then reviewed. The LHA rate used will only be changed if you have a change which affects the number of bedrooms you and your family need.
Ineligible service charges
If you pay rent but not under the LHA scheme, then some service charges included in your rent may not be met by Housing Benefit. For example:
- Water charges
- Fuel for cooking
- Support charges
You will be responsible for paying your landlord for any charges which are included in your rent that Housing Benefit cannot cover.
Tenancies with a Housing Association or Registered Provider
If your tenancy agreement is made under the social housing provisions and your landlord is a housing association or registered landlord, then your rent (less any ineligible service charges) will be used in your Housing Benefit calculation. If we decide that the rent is too high we can restrict the rent or service charges.
Changes from 1 April 2013
If you live in housing association accommodation and are deemed to have too many bedrooms for you and your families need then the amount of Housing Benefit you get will be reduced by:
- 14% of your eligible rent where you have one bedroom more than you need
- 25% of your eligible rent where you have two or more bedrooms than you need
One bedroom is allowed for each of the following:
- Every adult couple*
- Any other adult aged 16 or over
- Any two children aged under 10
- Any two children of the same sex aged under 16
- Any other child
- A non-resident overnight carer
*By couple we mean two people who are married to each other, or live together as if they are married, or a two people who are civil partners or live together as if they are civil partners.
The following groups will be exempt from the new rules and will continue to have all of their eligible rent used in their Housing Benefit calculation:
- Those who, or whose partner, has reached the qualifying age for state pension credit
- Those in shared ownership schemes
- Those who have been housed under homeless legislation
- Those in exempt accommodation
Other tenancy types
If you are not subject to the above schemes then it is likely that your rent will have been referred to the Valuation Agency for a Housing Benefit determination. When making a determination, the Valuation Officer will consider the following:
- The level of rent
- The rent for similar properties in the area
- The number of rooms
- The age and number of people living there
The determination will usually apply for 52 weeks unless there is a significant change to the property or the number of people included within the household. Your rent will be referred if you have a contractual rent increase.
The Valuation Office will set the rent at a level they consider to be reasonable. We then use this amount in your Housing Benefit assessment.