The “Bedroom Tax” is the name given to benefit changes introduced on 1st April 2013 for social housing tenants, which mean that the amount of Housing Benefit or Universal Credit you get might be reduced if, according to the government, you have more bedrooms than they think you need.
If you (or you and your partner) are Pension Credit age and getting Housing Benefit to help you pay your rent, then you will not be affected by the Bedroom Tax.
Your Housing Benefit, or the help included in your Universal Credit to help you pay your rent, will be reduced by an amount equal to 14% of your rent if you are regarded as having one ‘extra’ bedroom; or by 25% of your rent if you have two or more ‘extra’ bedrooms.
But it doesn’t affect everybody. You won’t need to pay any more rent for having ‘too many’ bedrooms:
- If you (or you and your husband, wife or partner) are Pension Credit age or over and getting Housing Benefit.
- If you live in a ‘shared ownership’ property.
- If you have been placed in a certain type of ‘temporary accommodation’.
- If you live in a particular type of supported housing called ‘exempt accommodation’ - ask us if you’re not sure.
- If your Housing Benefit has already been reduced because of a Rent Officer referral.
How many bedrooms am I allowed?
The government has decided that:
- Any single person aged 16 or over needs their own bedroom.
- A couple need a bedroom.
- A child needs a bedroom BUT.....
- A boy and a girl are expected to share a bedroom if they are both under 10.
- 2 boys or 2 girls are expected to share if they are both under 16. See below for examples.
- Foster children are not taken into account (but see under special rules below).
- Children who stay with you part of the time aren’t taken into account*.
There are special rules where an extra bedroom may be allowed - these are:
If two people are unable to share a bedroom due to disability.
- If your local council (for Housing Benefit) or the DWP (for Universal Credit) accept that if, because of a child’s disability, there would be disruption to the sleep of another child if they shared a bedroom, then the disabled child can be allocated their own bedroom if they are getting the middle or high rate care component of Disability Living Allowance.
- Since 1st April 2017, similar rules have applied to couples. If, due to one member of the couple’s physical or mental disability, they cannot reasonably share a bedroom, they will be allocated an extra bedroom. This could be, for example, because the disabled person has to sleep in a special bed, cannot share this with their partner and there is no room in the bedroom for another bed, or equipment such as a hoist means that there is only room for one single bed, or because the non-disabled partner has their sleep disrupted frequently due to their partner’s disability. The disabled person must be in receipt of the Daily Living Component of Personal Independence Payment, the middle or high rate care component of Disability Living Allowance, the High Rate of Attendance Allowance or Armed Forces Independence Payment.
A room for an overnight carer.
- If you or your partner are disabled, any room needed for sleeping in by a carer (who does not normally live with you) who cares for you or your partner ‘regularly’ (it’s up to the council / the DWP to decide if it is ‘regularly’) can be allocated a bedroom. For Universal Credit the person requiring the care must be getting either Personal Independence Payment (daily living component) or the middle or high rate care component of Disability Living Allowance.
- From 1st April 2017, these rules were extended, so if it is one of your children, foster children or non-dependants who regularly receives the overnight care, an extra room can be allocated for their carer. For Universal Credit, the child or person requiring the care must be getting either Personal Independence Payment (daily living component) or the middle or high rate care component of Disability Living Allowance, Attendance Allowance or Armed Forces Independence Payment.
- If someone in the household is a foster carer – NOTE: only one extra bedroom is allowed regardless of the number of foster children; but this rule still applies during gaps between fostering (while the gap is less than a year).
- If a son or daughter is in the armed forces but normally lives with you, they retain their bedroom whilst away on operations.
Away at University.
- If a son or daughter who normally lives with you is away at college / university, they retain their bedroom whilst away from home, so long as they intend to return (and do return) within 52 weeks (Housing Benefit) or 6 months (Universal Credit).
Once your local council / the DWP have worked out how many bedrooms you are deemed to need using the above rules, they will regard any bedroom you have above this as ‘extra’. This is regardless of its size*, whether you use it or not and regardless of what* or who* you use it for, and so will mean you have to pay more rent.
*See the 'Frequently Asked Questions' page for ideas on challenging the local council’s / DWP’s decisions.
Mr Smith, age 45, lives alone in a 3 bedroom house with a rent of £100 a week. Because of some part-time earnings he would normally be entitled to £60 a week Housing Benefit. However, he has two ‘extra’ bedrooms and so his Housing Benefit is reduced by a Bedroom Tax deduction of 25% of £100 – ie £25.00, and so only gets £35 a week Housing Benefit.
Mr and Mrs Khan, both age 39, live with their two daughters aged 9 and 13 in a three bedroom house. Their rent is £120 a week and they would normally receive £15 per week in Housing Benefit. As their daughters are expected to share a bedroom they are regarded as having one extra bedroom. Their Housing Benefit is reduced by a Bedroom Tax reduction of 14% of £120, ie £16.80, so this takes them off Housing Benefit altogether.
Joe is disabled, gets Universal Credit, and lives on his own in a 2 bedroom flat. His sister comes to stay with him when his disability causes him problems at night- usually once or twice a week. Because he gets Disability Living Allowance (middle rate care) and his sister sleeps in the second bedroom when she visits, he fits the rules that allow his ‘extra’ bedroom so his Universal Credit entitlement will not be reduced by the Bedroom Tax.
What can I do?
If your Housing Benefit or Universal Credit is being reduced by the Bedroom Tax:
- First check that a Bedroom Tax deduction should apply to you (see the Frequently Asked Questions for more information). If you don’t think it should (maybe the local council / DWP have the number of children wrong, or don’t know about your overnight carer) then contact them immediately, and let us know – we may be able to help.
- If the Bedroom Tax is being applied correctly and you are getting Housing Benefit, you need to pay the difference in your rent, otherwise you could lose your home. If you are struggling to pay your rent contact us immediately.
- If the Bedroom Tax is being applied correctly and the Universal Credit you get each month includes help with your rent, this will not cover all the rent that is due so contact us to find out how much you have to pay. If you are struggling to pay your rent contact us immediately.
- If the Bedroom Tax is being applied correctly and the DWP pay part of your Universal Credit to us, towards your rent, this will not cover all the rent that is due so contact us to find out how much you have to pay. If you are struggling to pay your rent contact us immediately.
- If you are having real difficulties paying your rent then you might be able to get a Discretionary Housing Payment- but the council’s budget is limited so you will need to explain your particular difficulties and provide a financial statement showing that you cannot afford the rent that is due. See the section on Discretionary Housing Payments for more information.
- *Even if the Bedroom Tax should apply to you according to the government’s rules, you might be able to argue successfully to an appeal tribunal that the rules are not being interpreted correctly in your case - see the Frequently Asked Questions for more information.
© 2017 Housing Systems Ltd