Under Occupation in Social Housing

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Information for Council or Housing Association tenants

Changes to Housing Benefit that came in to force from April 2013 may mean less benefit if you rent your home from the Council or a Housing Association. 

You could be affected:

  • If you have one or more spare bedrooms, and;
  • You are aged between 16 and 63 and even if you only receive a small amount of housing benefit (if you are working for example)

You won’t be affected If you live in :

  • a one bedroom property or bedsit
  • a shared ownership property
  • a houseboat or mobile home or other 'excluded tenancy' not registered with a housing association
  • various supported accommodation where you are provided with care, support or supervision

You will also not be affected if:

  • You or your partner are old enough to receive pension credits.  
    (In November 2016 the pension credit age was around 63 years and 6 months.)
  • you are an approved foster carer
  • you have an adult child in the Armed Forces, who normally lives with you

There may be further exceptions:

if a child is unable to share a bedroom it will be for the Council to satisfy themselves that this is the case - this could be for medical reasons and the child may be in receipt of Disability Living Allowance (various conditions apply).

What is meant by a 'spare bedroom'?

Under the new rules you lose part/all of your housing benefit entitlement if you have more bedrooms than the Government says you need.

Under the new rules you can have one bedroom for: :

  • each adult couple
  • any other person aged 16 or over
  • two children of the same sex under the age of 16
  • two children under the age of 10 regardless of their sex
  • a carer (who does not normally live with you) if you or your partner need overnight care.

It does not matter how the 'spare bedroom' is used, the new rules will apply even if:

  •  you and your partner need to sleep apart because of a medical condition
  • the main residence of your children is another address, but you have a spare room for when they stay with you.

What happens if you have a 'spare bedroom'?

  • one 'spare bedroom' - your housing benefit will be cut by 14% of the eligible weekly rent for your home.
  • two or more spare bedrooms - your housing benefit will be cut by 25% of the weekly eligible rent for your home.

If your benefit is cut you will have to pay your landlord the difference between your weekly housing benefit and your weekly rent (inclusive of any eligible services).

Example 1

Alex and Narinder live in a two-bedroom flat – the rent is £70 per week and currently housing benefit covers the full amount.

Under the new rules they will have one spare bedroom.

Their eligible rent will be reduced by 14%  (14% of £70 = £9.80). Their housing benefit will be reduced by £9.80 to £60.20 per week. They will have to pay £9.80 per week towards their rent.

Example 2

Mr and Mrs Bell live with their teenage sons, aged 13 and 15, in a four bedroom house. Their rent (inclusive of eligible services) is £100 per week and they currently receive £10 per week in housing benefit. Under the new rules their children will be expected to share a bedroom and so they will be treated as having  two spare bedrooms.

Their housing benefit will be reduced by 25% of £100 (£25), and so they will lose all their housing benefit.

What should I do if I am affected?

  • Contact your landlord if you would like to move to a smaller property
  • Contact your Housing Officer if you are thinking about taking in a lodger
  • Make sure that you are claiming all the benefits you can
  • Consider whether you could find some work to increase your income
  • Contact the Council if you have any queries about housing benefit (telephone 01727 819220) or to check if you may be eligible for a Discretionary Housing Payment.

Discretionary Housing Payments

Help may be available via a Discretionary Housing Payment Fund. Download a Discretionary Housing Payment form

For example: 

  • help whilst you are waiting to move to accommodation that is relevant to your households size 
  • help for people facing homelessness

Quick guide

Size of household

Number of bedrooms covered by Housing Benefit

Single person

Adult couple

Couple or single adult with one child

Couple or single adult with two children of either sex aged less than 10 years

Couple or single adult with two children of the same sex aged under 16 years

Couple or single adult with 2 children of the opposite sex with at least 1 child aged over 10 years.

Couple or single adult with three children, two of the same sex, aged under 16 and one of the opposite sex aged 5.

Couple or single adult with
four children, two boys under 16 years and two girls under 16 years.

A couple or single adult with
four children, two boys aged 10 years and 1 boy of 14 years and a girl of 15 years.

A couple or single adult with
five children, 2 boys aged under 16 and 2 girls aged under 10 and one boy  of 15 years.

Date of last review: 12 December 2016