Presentation on theme: "Local Housing Allowance – the future Richard Burrows Lettings Research Manager Rent Officer Functions."— Presentation transcript:
Local Housing Allowance – the future Richard Burrows Lettings Research Manager Rent Officer Functions
VOA Rent Officer Functions We were formerly the Rent Service but were absorbed into the Valuation Office in April 2009. Rent Officers still register rents under the 1977 Rent Act Rent Officers still make determinations on pre-April 2008 Housing Benefit claims – every 52 weeks. This scheme carries on until a break in claim or change address.
Rent Officers in Lettings Research Teams Production of Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates each month for over 150 Broad Rental Market Areas (BRMAs) From the collection of agreed lettings on houses and flats. Involving ongoing dialogue with Private rented Sector (PRS)
Our Challenge Collection of data which is provided on a voluntary basis by letting agents & landlords Ensuring that our data reflects rental levels in the market Maintaining a comprehensive range of lettings information ensuring the best available overview of the PRS Information is held securely and confidentially We publish some of the information on our website
The Local Housing Allowance- a recap Personal entitlement based on household size Claimant can choose smaller or larger accommodation according to price and ability to pay Until the end of March 2011, the LHA is based on the middle of the range for a certain property size. This means that half of the rental properties of that size in the area will be affordable within the LHA amount that tenants receive.
LHA rates are published on the LHA-direct website so that people know the rates before signing a tenancy LHA rates are also published by each local authority The rates are determined from 12 months of data using an automatic process It is a 12 month rolling database to which we add more data every month as older data falls off. Local Housing Allowance
lha-direct.voa.gov.uk LHA Direct website Search by postcode for LHA rates since April 2008 BRMA Maps and associated review documentation List of Rents used for every LHA showing number of items and low / high rents
Changes to the LHA - caps From April 2011 a cap will be introduced for each property size set at: £250pw for a 1 bedroom allowance £290pw for a 2 bedroom allowance £340pw for a 3 bedroom allowance £400pw for a 4 bedroom or larger The max £15pw excess that tenants renting below the LHA can retain will also cease.
Changes to the LHA - 30 th % From April 2011 a new limit will be introduced up to the 30 th percentile for new claims. For ongoing LHA claims made before 1 April 2011, where there is no change of circumstances, these will continue to get Housing Benefit based on the current rate of LHA received immediately before 1 April 2011. Safeguards - DHP & discretionary Direct Payments will help LAs manage existing and new claims Existing claims : transactional arrangements – remain on current rate of LHA for up to 9mths after the HB is re- assessed, after 1 April 2011. So the 30 th percentile will start to apply for existing claims for most tenants from January 2012 onwards.
Direct Payments New safeguard provision: discretion to pay HB direct to landlord if it will assist in securing or retaining a tenancy Intended to help negotiate lower rents, new rents normally at LHA rate Not a reversal to direct payments to landlords Must be satisfied – genuine reduction in the rent Anecdotal evidence – some landlords charge higher rents to mitigate the risk of arrears
Changes to Local Housing Allowance The current median rent is the figure halfway up the distribution of the List of Rents in the BRMA i.e. 50%. item 9 of 17 =£195.00
Changes to Local Housing Allowance The 30 percentile identifies the rent or figure 30 percent up from the lowest figure in the List of Rents. Item 5 of 17 = £185.00. Effectively 30 percent of the rents are available to a claimant and will also apply from April 2011 for new claims
Changes to the LHA – comparison BRMA Medway BRMA Household Category March 2011 LHA Medians April 2011 30 th percentile Room (Shared facilities) £62.50 per week 1 Bed£114.23 (£495pcm) £103.85 (£450pcm) 2 Bed£137.31 (£595pcm) £126.92 (£550pcm) 3 Bed£155.77 (£675pcm) £144.23 (£625pcm) 4 Bed£226.73 (£982.50pcm) £190.38 (£825pcm) Note - All 30th percentile figures are indicative only, and not actual statements of fact
Median LHA vs 30 th percentile Examples of Distribution Curve Large sample and stable Small sample and unstable
Further Reforms LHA rates Shared rooms (LHA Cat A), which applies to most single people under 25, will be extended to people aged under 35 from January 2012. From 2013/14 the LHA rates will be baselined and uprated on the basis of the Consumer Price Index (CPI). The link between market rents and LHA may be removed but we are continuing to ensure we have the most representative data.
The LHA and you - how can you help? LHA levels are determined by the actual rental levels in each BRMA – in other words, the ‘market.’ We can not use advertised rents. Landlords are a good source of lettings data & we send out Mail shots to landlords such as HMO landlords The more lettings data we gather, the more robust and reflective the LHA figures are. We need to represent the whole PRS, so we need to include rooms, student lets, joint tenancies, flats over commercial etc