Local Housing Allowance (LHA) is the scheme used to set the rent for private tenants who apply for Housing Benefit. It is based on the market rent levels for the area in which you live and the number of people who live with you on a full-time basis.
Who is not affected by Local Housing Allowance
LHA does not apply to your home if you have a tenancy:
- with the Housing Executive or a housing association
- in supported accommodation
- in a caravan, mobile home, houseboat or hostel
- where the rent is restricted under the Private Tenancies Order (2006) or the 1978 Rent Order
How we work out your Local Housing Allowance
The rate of LHA used to calculate your Housing Benefit award depends on:
- the area you chose live in; and
- who lives with you and the number of bedrooms you need.
Northern Ireland is divided into eight areas, as shown on the map below. Each area covers a number of neighbourhoods and different types of property. The Housing Executive publishes the LHA rent levels for each area on this website.
How many bedrooms are allowed
You are allowed one bedroom for:
- every adult couple
- each person 16 or over
- any two children of the same sex aged under 16
- any two children aged under 10
- member of a couple who cannot share because of a disability or medical condition
- a child who cannot share because of a disability or medical condition
- any other child (a foster child if you are an approved foster parent)
- non-resident carer providing overnight care to you or a member of the household
An extra bedroom is not allowed for an absent parent who comes to stay in the household where the children live. Nor can we allow an extra bedroom(s) for children who don’t normally live in the house who stay overnight with a parent.
If you are under 35 and live alone
If you are single and under 35 you will usually get the ‘shared room rate’. We base this rent on a property where- you have a bedroom of your own but you share all or some of the facilities (for example, a living room, kitchen or bathroom)
The ‘shared room rate’ will apply even if you live in self-contained accommodation.
There are circumstances where some under 35s living alone may not be restricted to the ‘shared room rate’. They are:
- you qualify for the severe disability premium
- you have spent 3 months in a homeless hostel and received support to be resettled in the community
- you are supported by Social Services under Public Protection Arrangements Northern Ireland
- you are an offender aged over 25 and under 35 and are subject to risk management arrangements under Part 3 of the Criminal Justice (NI) Order
- you are under 22 and were the subject of a Care Order before the age of 16
Check the Local Housing Allowance rent level which applies to your property so you know the maximum amount of rent we will use to work out your Housing Benefit.
Thirteen week protection
If you have been able to pay your rent before making a claiming for Housing Benefit, we can use the actual rent you are being charged to calculate your Housing Benefit entitlement, for the first thirteen weeks of your claim. This is providing you have not received an award of Housing Benefit in the previous 52-weeks. This is to give you time to look at what rentals options you have.
Help if you can’t pay a shortfall in housing costs (rent/rates)
If you decide to move into a property where the housing costs (rent/rates) are higher than the LHA rent level you will have to pay the difference (shortfall).
You may get help to meet the difference through a Discretionary Housing Payment.
The LHA for tenants is reviewed annually or when there is a change in circumstances which would cause a different LHA to apply.
Further information on LHA
The information in this section is for general advice only. We recommend that you contact your local Housing Benefit office if you have any queries.