For tenants living in the private rented sector who apply for Housing Benefit, we use Local Housing Allowance rules to set a rental level.
Local Housing Allowance rates are based on rents and limited by legislation. These rents are being paid by people with the same number of bedrooms as the property where you live, or the number of rooms you and your household needs.
Who is not affected by Local Housing Allowance (LHA)
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; or
- 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 choose to live in; and
- who lives with you and the number of bedrooms you need.
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 on a property where:
- you have a bedroom of your own; and
- you share some facilities (like a living room, kitchen or bathroom)
The ‘shared room rate’ will apply even if you live in self-contained accommodation.
Some under 35s living alone may receive more than the ‘shared room rate’.
This will apply where:
- you qualify for the severe disability premium
- read more from NI Direct about severe disability premium
- You require an additional bedroom for an overnight carer
- You are aged under 25 years and were the subject of a Care Order made:
- After the age of 16 years, or
- Before the age of 16 years, but which continued after that age, or
- You were formerly provided with accommodation under the Children’s Order
You are aged 16 years or over and you have spent 3 months in a homeless hostel and received support to help with resettlement in the community
- You are an ex offender aged 25 years or over and:
- Are subject to risk management arrangements under Part 3 of the Criminal Justice (NI) Order, and
- You are provided with support under Public Protection Arrangements NI (PPANI)
Find the LHA rent level for your area
Northern Ireland is divided into eight Broad Rental Market Areas. These are shown on the map below.
The Housing Executive publishes the LHA rent levels for each area on this website. To find out the LHA rent levels for your area please go to LHA rent levels.
To find out the LHA rent levels for your area please go to our section on: .
Thirteen week protection
This applies if you have been paying your full rent charge for one year before making a claim for Housing Benefit. We will use the rent you are being charged to calculate your Housing Benefit entitlement. This will apply for the first thirteen weeks of your claim.
You must not have received an award of Housing Benefit in the previous 52 weeks. This will give you time to look at what rentals options you have.
Help if you can’t pay a shortfall in housing costs (rent/rates)
You can choose to live in a property where the housing costs (rent/rates) are higher than the LHA rent level. You will have to pay the difference (shortfall) between the rent and the Housing Benefit we pay.
You may get help to meet the difference through a Discretionary Housing Payment. You can read more in our section on:
We review LHA for tenants each year 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.
Contact your local Housing Benefit office if you have any queries.
Find your nearest: