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When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Calculating and paying housing benefit

Advice for landlords in Northern Ireland

This page is for landlords operating in Northern Ireland.  You can find advice for tenants elsewhere on our website. Private landlords in Northern Ireland can call Landlord Advice on 028 9024 5640 and choose option 5. 

The local housing allowance (LHA) system calculates how much benefit private tenants get towards rent. Both Housing Benefit and Universal Credit use the LHA rules. 

The amount your tenant gets in benefits will not usually match the rent you charge. It's common for tenants to get a lot less than they have to pay the landlord. 

What is the local housing allowance?

The local housing allowance is the maximum amount of benefit that a private renter can get. It is based on

  • the postcode of the rented property, and
  • the number of other people in the renter's household, and
  • the tenant's age.

Postcodes for local housing allowance

The Housing Executive divided Northern Ireland into 8 broad rental market areas. The first part of the rented property's postcode determines which area it is in. 

The Housing Executive looks at the rents for properties of different sizes in each area. It sets the LHA rate at the 30th percentile of these rents. This means the LHA rate is enough to cover the cost of properties in the lowest third of the market 

The Housing Executive sets an LHA rate in each area for

  • a room in a shared property (the shared accommodation rate)
  • 1 bedroom property
  • 2-bedroom property
  • 3-bedroom property
  • 4-bedroom property.

The LHA rates are on the Housing Executive's website. 

How many bedrooms can the tenant get?

The LHA rate depends on how many rooms the tenant needs, not on how many rooms are in the property they are renting. 

The tenant gets one bedroom for

  • the tenant and their partner
  • any other adult aged 16 or over
  • two children of the same gender up to age 16
  • two children of opposite genders up to age 10

The tenant can get an extra bedroom if

  • a member of the household gets disability benefits and can't share a room due to their disability
  • a person who is not in the household regularly stays overnight to provide care for a disabled member of the household.

Local housing allowance for single young people with no dependents

There are different rules for people aged under 35 who

  • are single, and
  • do not have children or other dependants.

These private renters will only get the shared accommodation rate. 

There are a few exceptions. Contact Landlord Advice NI if you think your tenant should be on a higher rate of benefit. 

Getting more help to pay rent and rates

The amount of benefits that a tenant gets towards rent will not usually cover what you charge. 

Tenants can apply for a discretionary housing payment. This is an extra payment they can get for an amount of time to help with the difference between benefits and rent. 

Tenants who pay rates can get help

Contact Landlord Advice NI if you have questions about benefits or rent payments.