Spare bedrooms and social housing tenants
If you live in a Council or Housing Association home and claim Housing Benefit to help you pay your rent, your Housing Benefit may be restricted. This could happen if you are of working age and your home is considered too large for you.
If you think you might be affected, don't panic - check out your options and get help now.
It is important to find out now if you'll be affected, so that you can work out how you'll be able to pay your rent when the changes happen.
What is the bedroom allowance?
The rules allow 1 bedroom for:
- every adult couple (married or unmarried)
- any other adult aged 16 or over
- any 2 children of the same sex aged under 16
- any 2 children aged under 10
- any other child, (other than a foster child or child whose main home is elsewhere)
- a carer (or team of carers) who do not live with you but provide overnight care for you or a member of your household - this will include your partner, dependants and non dependents.
What will I be entitled to?
Your eligible rent will be restricted by:
- 14% for under-occupancy by 1 bedroom
- 25% for under-occupancy by 2 bedrooms or more
What can you do if your Housing Benefit is restricted?
If your Housing Benefit is restricted because your home is considered too large for you, you will probably have a shortfall between your rent and the amount of Housing Benefit you get. You will be responsible for making up this shortfall. If you can't make up the shortfall yourself, you could end up losing your home. Here are some options you might want to consider:
- make up the shortfall yourself, from your other benefits or savings, if you have any
- try to find work if you are able to, Job Centre Plus may be able to help with this
- try to increase your income from paid work, for example by working extra hours
- make sure you're getting all the benefits you can, for example money to help you with the costs of a disability
- ask a family member who lives with you to contribute more
- move to a smaller home in the social housing or private rented sector. Your social housing landlord may be able to help you swap your home for another Council or a Housing Association place. They may also offer you a sum of money or other help to encourage you to downsize
- apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment. The Council only has a limited amount of money and will need to prioritise payments to disabled tenants whose homes have been specially adapted for them, and payments to foster carers
- take in a lodger. This can be a very complex decision and you should always take advice before considering this option
When will you hear what is happening to your Housing Benefit?
If you're going to receive less Housing Benefit, you will receive a letter showing your new entitlement. Your landlord will also be told about the new rate.