Under occupation, also known as 'Bedroom Tax' was introduced in the social rented sector, on 1 April 2013.
Working age, council and housing association tenants receiving housing benefit may have their housing benefit reduced if they are deemed to be under occupying the property.
How many bedrooms is my household allowed?
One bedroom is counted for:
- Each adult or adult couple
- A person who is not a child (aged 16 and over)
- every two children under age 10 (regardless of gender)
- every two children under the age of 16 if they are of the same gender
- any other child
- a non resident carer if you or your partner need overnight care
- foster carers will be allowed so long as they have fostered a child or become an approved foster carer within the last 52 weeks
- parents with adult children in the armed forces (or reservists) who normally live with them will be able to retain the bedroom for that adult child when they are deployed on operations
The benefits service can also allow an extra bedroom for a child who is unable to share a bedroom because of a disability or medical condition. The child must be receiving the care component of Disability Living Allowance at the middle or highest rate.
Extra bedrooms are not allowed for children who visit the household at weekends.
These rules mean that those tenants whose accommodation is larger than they need may lose part of their housing benefit.
How much benefit will I lose?
If you are ‘under-occupying’ your accommodation, you will see a reduction in your housing benefit as follows:
- 14% of your total eligible rent for under-occupying by one bedroom
- 25% of your total eligible rent for under-occupying by two or more bedrooms
If your housing benefit is reduced, you will have to make up any shortfall of rent to your landlord.
- Example 1: A couple live in a 3 bedroom house and have one child age 3. Based on the new rules the household would only be entitled to 2 bedrooms so their housing benefit would be reduced by £11 per week (£572 per year).
- Example 2: A couple live in a 3 bedroom house with their son aged 14 and daughter aged 17. Based on the new rules their Housing Benefit will not be affected as they are entitled to have 3 bedrooms.
- Example 3: A single parent lives in a three bedroom house with her sons aged 6 and 8. Based on the new rules the household would only be entitled to 2 bedrooms so their Housing Benefit will be reduced by £11 per week (£572 per year).
- Example 4: A couple live in a 4 bedroom house with their daughter aged 5 and son aged 7. The husband's son aged 16 comes to stay at weekends. Based on the new rules they will only be entitled to 2 bedrooms. Their daughter and youngest son would be expected to share a room and the eldest son would not be counted as he only stays at the weekend. The couple would have their benefit reduced by£20 per week (£1,040 per year).