Changes to Housing Benefit for people renting from a private landlord

Benefit change graphic

In Brighton & Hove, private sector tenants have their housing benefit calculated using the Local Housing Allowance (LHA), with the maximum LHA rates being set by the Valuation Office Agency.

The LHA rates are set of monthly benefit awards for different size properties and represent the maximum amount of housing benefit that can be paid to you if you live in the private rented sector. 

The government have introduced a number of changes to how LHA is calculated, which started coming in from April 2011.

LHA rates frozen and adjusted annually - from April 2012

LHA rates were frozen in April 2012 to prepare for the annual adjusting of LHA rates by either Consumer Price Index (CPI) or the current 30th percentile of market rents (whichever is lower). These changes affect all claimants.

LHA for under 35s restricted to the amount for a room - from January 2012

The government has changed the rules that apply to most single people aged between 25 and 35, who do not have children and live in self-contained accommodation. The change means that, instead of the current one bedroom Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rate, you will receive the LHA rate for shared accommodation, which may be much lower.

There are some people under 35 who will be exempt from these changes, who are:

  • households with children
  • households with non-dependents
  • young people leaving care, until they are 22 years old
  • young people who qualify for the severe disability premium in their Housing Benefit, Income Support or Jobseeker’s Allowance,
  • young people who require an overnight carer
  • young people who have spent three months or more in a homeless hostel, where they are engaged with rehabilitation & resettlement support services

For further details, see our benefit changes for under 35s page.

When will I be affected?

These changes are staggered so when it affects you depends on when you first made your claim. We will write to you before the changes affect your entitlement.

  1. If you made a claim on or after 1 January 2012, the changes will affect you straight away.
  2. If you made a claim between 1 April 2011 and 31 December 2011, the changes will affect you one year after you originally claimed. For example, if you made your claim on 1 November 2011, the changes will affect you from 1 November 2012.
  3. If you made a claim before 1 April 2011, the changes will affect you nine months after the first anniversary of your claim on or after 1 April 2011. For example, if you made your claim on 1 December 2008, your first anniversary after 1 April 2011 would be 1 December 2011, and you would be affected by the changes nine months later on 1 September 2012.

If your circumstances change, your claim will be worked out under the new rules, for example:

  • if you change address, will be worked out under the new rules straight away with no transitional protection
  • if there is a change in your household so that you are entitled to a smaller dwelling (for example if someone moves out), the changes will apply straight away with no transitional protection
  • if there is a change in you household so that you are entitled to a larger dwelling (for example if someone moves in, a child is born, a child reaches the age of 10 or 16), your claim will be worked out under the new rules straight away, but you could get transitional protection for up to nine months

Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates reduced to the 30th percentile - from April 2011

Previously, the maximum amount of benefit you could claim for each size property was based on the median ('50th percentile') of a range of rents. From April 2011, the Valuation Office Agency set the Local Housing Allowance rates at the '30th percentile', meaning that LHA rates will be less than 70% of market rents charged, but higher than 30% of rents charged.

This means the maximum amount of Housing Benefit you can claim for will be less than it was before April 2011.

To see the 30th percentile LHA rates for Brighton & Hove visit our LHA monthly rates page.

To see LHA rates for other areas, visit the Directgov website.

When will this affect me?

These changes are staggered so when it affects you depends on when you first made your claim. We will write to you before the changes affect your entitlement.

  1. If you made a claim after April 2011 the changes will affect you straight away.
  2. If you made a claim before 1 April 2011, the changes will affect you nine months after the first anniversary of your claim which falls on or after 1 April 2011. For example, if you made your claim on 1 December 2008, your first anniversary after 1 April 2011 would be 1 December 2011 and you would be affected by the changes nine months later on 1 September 2012.

If your circumstances change, your claim will be worked out under the new rules, for example:

  • if you change address, will be worked out under the new rules straight away with no transitional protection
  • if there is a change in your household so that you are entitled to a smaller dwelling (for example if someone moves out), the changes will apply straight away with no transitional protection
  • if there is a change in you household so that you are entitled to a larger dwelling (for example if someone moves in, a child is born, a child reaches the age of 10 or 16), your claim will be worked out under the new rules straight away, but you could get transitional protection for up to nine months

If you need more information about how these changes affect you, please contact the Housing Benefits team.