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You are here:home > Living > Benefit and Reduction > Housing Benefit > Local Housing Allowance

Local Housing Allowance

If you are renting your property from a private landlord, the Local Housing Allowance is used to work out how much Housing Benefit can be paid:

Local Housing Allowance does not apply to:
• People who rent their home from the Council
• People who rent their home from a Registered Social Landlord or Housing Association
• People whose tenancy started before 1989 or who have a registered fair rent
• People who live in supported accommodation
• People who live in hostels, caravans and houseboats
• It may not apply if your rent includes an amount for meals

Housing Benefit prior to 07.04.08, Local Housing Allowance will only apply if:
• Change address
• Have a break in your claim

The Local Housing Allowance rates are set by the Rent Service and are available on the Southampton City Council website. Please see: LHA Rates.

The Rent Service will provide rates for households that require up to four bedrooms. To find out how many rooms you are entitled to please see: LHA Bedroom Calculator (opens a new page).

Payment of Local Housing Allowance
Housing Benefit which is paid based on Local Housing Allowance will normally be paid directly into your bank account. For payments to go directly to your landlord you will need to fulfil one of criteria detailed in the FAQ below.

Payment of Benefits FAQs

1. My landlord is a Housing Association. How will my benefit be paid?

If you are renting from a Housing Association, payments of Housing Benefit can either be sent to you every 2 weeks or sent directly to your landlord every 4 weeks.
If you would prefer to have your Housing Benefit paid directly to your landlord you and your landlord will have to complete a Direct Payment to landlord form to enable this. Your landlord will then receive your Housing Benefit payments on your behalf every 4 weeks.

2. I rent from a private landlord. How will my benefit be paid?

Housing Benefit which is paid based on Local Housing Allowance will normally be paid directly into your bank account. Payments made to you will be sent two weekly, payments made direct to your landlord will be made four weekly.

For payments to go directly to your landlord you will need to fulfil one of the following criteria: you are classed as a vulnerable person, or are in arrears with your rent by 8 weeks or more or have requested payments to go direct to your landlord on the basis they have kept your rent at a reasonable figure.

You may need to complete: a Direct Payment Decision form, a Direct Payment to Landlord form and provide evidence to support your request.

If you rent from a private landlord and your claim is not paid under the Local Housing Allowance (referred to the Rent Officer) scheme you can have benefit paid to you or your landlord without having to fulfil any of the above criteria.

3. I am a council tenant. How is my benefit paid?

If you are renting from the council your Housing Benefit will be paid directly to your rent account every week.

4. How is Council Tax Benefit paid?

Any Council Tax Benefit awarded to you is credited to your Council Tax account and a new bill is issued with reduced instalments. 

Basic Bank Account FAQ

1. What is a basic bank account?

Most banks now provide basic bank accounts that give access to limited banking facilities. Generally speaking these accounts allow you to receive your income and withdraw cash from cash machines but do not allow you to have an overdraft facility, cheque book, debit card or credit card. Some do allow the issue of Solo or Visa Electron cards that can be used to buy goods in shops. Most basic bank accounts are credit scored and this means that you may be eligible to upgrade your account to a current account at a future date.

2. Why have a basic bank account?

We pay most of our private tenants’ Housing Benefit via BACS. To receive such payments you must have a bank account. The advantages of receiving Housing Benefit via BACS are:

  • you don’t need to wait for a cheque to clear;

  • there are no postal delays;

  • there is no risk of theft;

  • Housing Benefit can still be withdrawn from various places including the Post Office;

  • you avoid costly charges made by cheque encashment companies, who charge between 5 and 10% of the value of a cheque;

  • you can take advantage of discounts from companies by having bills paid by direct debit.

If you are being paid Housing Benefit through the Local Housing Allowance scheme, your entitlement will be paid via BACS, so you must have a bank account. If you do not have a bank account you may be able to open a basic bank account.

3. What banks have basic bank accounts?

There are several banks that offer basic bank accounts. These are:

Alliance & Leicester
Cooperative bank
Lloyds TSB
Royal Bank of Scotland

4. What documents do I need to open an account?

As part of the application for a basic bank account documents will need to be provided as proof of identity and residency.

Downloadable documents

Icon Name of file Size Download time
Word document LHA - Information for landlords 59 KB 0secs @ 2Mbps
Word document LHA - Important changes from 01.04.11 58 KB 0secs @ 2Mbps
PDF document Opening a Bank Account 366 KB 1secs @ 2Mbps
Word document LHA Vulnerability Policy 118 KB 0secs @ 2Mbps
Link to download Adobe Acrobat if required

Related links

Other websites
LHA Direct

Contact information