Housing Benefit

Housing Benefit Regulations:

Housing benefits are regulated by the Housing Benefit Regulations 2006, as amended by the Housing Benefit (Local Housing Allowance and Information Sharing) Amendment Regulations 2007, with the intention of assisting persons on a low income by contributing towards the rental and other such charges associated with living in a property. Housing benefits provide a rental allowance, funded by the state, to eligible Tenants. The housing benefit is paid over to the Tenant to be used specifically for rental purposes.

Requirements for Eligibility:

There are the following requirements for persons to be eligible for housing benefits:

  • They must be liable to pay charges (rent or otherwise) in respect of their home;
  • They must be on a low income (often they are unemployed); and
  • They must have savings and capital assets valued at less than £16,000.

The Rent Allowance (RA) and the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) schemes:

Prior to April 2008, the Rent Allowance (RA) scheme was in force. This scheme was overly complicated and often unfairly implemented. Thus in April 2008 the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) scheme came into force. This new scheme provides a simplified version of the RA scheme, where the amount of the benefit depends on the following factors:

  • The area in which the Tenant lives;
  • The number of people who occupy the property; and
  • The Tenant's financial circumstances.

The LHA scheme will apply to the following Tenants:

  • All Tenants making a new claim for housing benefits from 7 April 2008;
  • All Tenants claiming housing benefits who change their address from 7 April 2008; and
  • All Tenants making claims for housing benefits where there is a break in entitlement of not less than a week from 7 April 2008.

The old RA scheme will apply to the following Tenants:

  • Tenancies which started prior to 1989;
  • Tenancies where the rent is registered as a 'fair rent';
  • Tenancies in respect of caravans, house boats or hostels; and
  • Tenancies where a substantial part of the rent is payment for meals and board.

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