Under-occupancy rules

If you're aged between 16 and 61, and claim housing benefit to help you pay your rent, you may be affected by the changes introduced by the government in 2013.

If you rent your home from a council or housing organisation, or other registered social landlord, and you have more bedrooms than the government says you need, under the new rules, you'll lose part of your housing benefit.

This is called 'under occupancy' charge or 'bedroom tax'.

How many bedrooms you're entitled to

The benefit ‘size criteria’ allows one bedroom for:

  • each adult couple (same or opposite sex)
  • any other person aged 16 or over
  • any two children of the same sex aged under 16
  • any two children under the age of 10 regardless of their sex
  • any other child

How your benefit will be reduced

If you have more bedrooms than you need for your family we’ll reduce your benefit payment by:

  • 14% if you have one 'spare' bedroom
  • 25% if you have two or more 'spare' bedrooms

You won’t be allowed to claim housing benefit for rooms that are used for children visiting a divorced or separated parent.

You need to consider these changes before you make a new tenancy agreement or renew your tenancy agreement.

Additional bedrooms

You may be allowed an additional bedroom if:

  • you or your partner need regular overnight care from someone who doesn't normally live with you. Fill in our form below to apply

  • you foster a child or have become a foster carer in the last 12 months. (Write to us to request a spare room, explaining the circumstances)

  • you have a child (children) with severe disabilities and they're unable to share a bedroom. (Fill in our form below to apply

  • you have adult children serving in the armed forces (providing they intend to  return to live with you)

  • you and your partner need to sleep apart because of a physical disability, and there isn't enough space for two single beds. Fill in our form below to apply.

    A further qualifying test will be that one member of the couple is receiving:

    • the middle or higher rate care component of Disability Living Allowance
    • higher rate Attendance Allowance
    • the daily living component of PIP
    • armed forces independence payment

Extra help to pay your rent

If you can’t afford to pay your rent because your housing benefit's been reduced, and you’re not able to move, you may be able to apply for extra help to pay your rent (or Discretionary Housing Payment).

Renting from a private landlord

If you’re renting your home from a private landlord, the Local Housing Allowance rates in your area are also used to work out how much housing benefit you’ll receive for the number of bedrooms that you have.