10th January, 2024
DWP published details yesterday of the likely LHA rates (weekly and monthly) which are due to come into effect on 1st April 2024. The press release refers to the figures as being “indicative” of what’s likely to be confirmed in the up-rating order on 31st January.
You can compare these rates, with the ones currently being used, since April 2020, by examining the Valuation Office website – Local Housing Allowance rates. It provides a facility to input the property in questions post code to identify the correct rate.
You may recall, the Chancellor announced the proposed unfreezing of the rates in his November 2023 Autumn Statement effectively restoring the LHA rates in Great Britain to the 30th percentile of local market rates. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) uses LHA rates to calculate the maximum housing support for Universal Credit claimants, whereas, councils use the same information for Housing Benefit purposes. The LHA rates are set within Broad Rental Market Areas (BRMA) so can vary quite a bit across GB. Many of the highest, unsurprisingly, appear in London and the south of England.
To secure the higher rates, landlords (private, charitable & voluntary) will firstly require issuing “rent increase” notices (e.g., section 13) to those affected tenants. The tenants, in turn, will require to notify DWP of the change in charge, making use of the drop-down box in their online journal. DWP may require seeing a copy of the notice or a letter from the landlord, validating the new rate. Contrastingly, there should be no requirement for a “new” tenancy agreement, although, given past experiences, there’s every likelihood DWP staff will ask for one. If that happens, it’s best to assist your tenant explain why that’s not necessary, using their journal (with their permission).
Councils are much more relaxed, especially when the landlord receives payment direct, and will ordinarily act on the information provided by the landlord themselves. Nevertheless, it’s still best to prompt your tenants to provide notification via phone, in writing, or tenant portals.
Notifying the change, in advance, should be possible, but DWP, contrary to both regulations and its own guidance, tends to insist the change must be notified after the effective date of increase. Landlords often ask me, why they can’t simply report the change, especially when they receive “direct payments”. Whilst there’s nothing to stop them reporting, DWP adopts the view, it’s the tenant’s claim and responsibility to report, so invariably refuse to act until the journal is updated and new charge is validated by the claimant.
If you require any further information on this or any other related topic, please get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org or 07733 080 389.
UC Advice & Advocacy Ltd