Government changes starting in January 2012
New rules starting in January 2012 for single private tenants aged 25 to 34.
The shared accommodation rate that used to apply just too single people under 25 who were tenants of private landlords now also applies to people aged under 35.
The new rules mean that if you are a single person aged 25 to 34 living on your own in self-contained accommodation; we can no longer base your Housing Benefit on one-bedroom self-contained accommodation. Instead, we must use a 'shared accommodation rate', which is a much lower rate and may be lower than the rent you pay.
From 1 January 2012, the shared accommodation rate applies to single private tenants under 35. This affects people making new Housing Benefit claims from 1 January straightaway and will affect people who are already claiming Housing Benefit after this, depending on when they claimed. Many single private tenants aged 25 to 34 living alone in self-contained accommodation will find that their Housing Benefit doesn't cover their rent.
When the new rules don't apply
We do not have to use the shared accommodation rate for some single people under 35. The new rules do not apply to you if:
When will the new rules start for someone single, aged 25 to 34, who is renting a self-contained home from a private landlord?
The new rules are set by the government and are extremely complicated. The date they start depends on the date you claim Housing Benefit, or if you are already claiming, the date you claimed.
If you claim on or after 1 January 2012
We have to use the shared accommodation rate straightaway to work out your benefit. The shared accommodation rate, like the other Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates, can change each month so we can't say how much it will be in the future. To give you an idea, the shared accommodation rate for January 2012 is £72.50 or £78.46 depending on which part of Surrey Heath Borough Council area the property is in. You can check the current month's shared accommodation rate on the Gov.uk Opens in a new window website - you need your postcode to do this.
If you are already getting benefit under the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rules and you were claiming before April 2011, the new rules usually apply nine months after your first 'anniversary date' after April 2011. Your 'anniversary date' is the date we look at your LHA rate again on the anniversary of your claim. For example, if you claimed in September 2010, your anniversary date was in September 2011. We have to use the shared accommodation rate from nine months after this, so from June 2012 we will use the June 2012 shared accommodation rate.
If you get benefit under the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rules and you claimed between 1 April 2011 and 31 December 2011, the new rules usually apply 12 months after you claimed. They apply from your 'anniversary date' - the date we look at your LHA rate again on the anniversary of your claim. For example, if you claimed benefit in July 2011, your anniversary date is in July 2012 and we must apply the shared accommodation rate from July 2012, using the July 2012 rate.
If you are already getting benefit and the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rules don't apply to you (this usually means you claimed before 7 April 2008) the new rules usually apply 12 months after your first annual review after April 2011. Your annual review is a year after you claimed and is the date we look at your claim again. For example, if you claimed benefit in May 2007, your first review after April 2011 was in May 2011 so we must use the shared accommodation rate 12 months after this, in May 2012. We will use the May 2012 shared accommodation rate.
You may be affected sooner if you move or have a change in your household.
We may have to use the shared accommodation rate from a different date if you move or have a change in your household that means you need a different number of bedrooms.
A couple both aged 27 have been claiming Housing Benefit since November 2010. They live in a self-contained one-bedroom flat and so they get the one-bedroom rate of LHA. Their anniversary date is November 2011. They split up and one person moves out in February 2012. The person staying on in the flat tells us about this change straightaway and we have to look at their LHA rate again in February 2012. We must use the shared accommodation rate from the date of the change, February 2012, because this is after the new rules start, they are now a single person living alone, aged under 34, and the new rules apply straightaway.
A single person aged 26 claimed Housing Benefit in August 2011 and is getting the one-bedroom rate because they are renting a one-bedroom self-contained flat. Their anniversary date is August 2012 and we must start using the shared accommodation rate from August 2012. However, they move to another self-contained one-bedroom flat in November 2011. Because of the move we have to look at their LHA rate again, so their new anniversary date is November 2012. We use the shared accommodation rate from November 2012.
If they had moved to their new flat in March 2012 instead of November 2011, we would start using the shared accommodation rate from March 2012 because the move (and our review of the claim) was after the start of the new rules in January 2012, so the new rules apply from the date of the move.