Should you change your Housing Benefit claim to Local Housing Allowance?
If you have a tenancy with a private landlord from before April 2008 (when LHA was introduced) and are already getting Housing Benefit under the pre-LHA rules, you can check the LHA rate for your property to see if you would be better off changing your claim over to LHA. But from April 2011 it is much less likely that you will be better off by changing over to LHA because the government has reduced the LHA rates that we can use to work out Housing Benefit. Only about three properties in every ten will be affordable for people on Housing Benefit.
If you check the rates and decide that you do want to change to LHA you can fill in a form to end your current Housing Benefit claim and make a new claim under LHA rules. But you must also take into account the following before making a decision and if you are still not sure contact us for advice:
You will not be entitled to any benefit for the period between your claims. You must make an arrangement with your landlord to pay your rent for that period. If you return the form to end your existing claim and the form to make your new LHA claim at the same time, the gap between your claims will only be one week. It will never be less than a week but it may be longer if you delay the claim in any way. For example, if you don't return both forms at the same time or if there is another change in your circumstances and you do not provide evidence about the change.
The LHA rate for your property can change if there is a change in your household.
We (the Benefits Service) will usually review the LHA rate that we are using for your claim on each anniversary of first assessing your claim for LHA. If the rate is different to the rate we are using we will use the new rate to work out your benefit, even if the rate is lower.
You will probably not be able to have your benefit paid directly to your landlord. We will pay you and you will have to arrange to pay your own rent.
Fill in these two forms to ask us to change your claim to LHA : 'Request to end my Housing Benefit claim' and a short version of the 'Housing Benefit claim form'. You must complete both forms so that we can end your current claim and set up a new claim for you as above. Send both forms back to us straightaway.
You can contact us and ask us to send the forms to you if you prefer.