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Under-occupancy ('bedroom tax')

Your Housing Benefit could be reduced if you live in social housing and have a spare bedroom.

How much is it?

The reduction is:

  • 14% of the ‘eligible rent’ for 1 spare bedroom
  • 25% of the ‘eligible rent’ for 2 or more spare bedrooms

This means you'll get less Housing Benefit to pay your rent. You'll need to find the rest of the money to pay your rent yourself.

Who has to share a bedroom?

The following are expected to share:

  • an adult couple
  • 2 children under 16 of the same sex
  • 2 children under 10 (regardless of sex)

The following can have their own bedroom:

  • a single adult (16 or over)
  • a child that would normally share but shared bedrooms are already taken, for example you have 3 children and 2 already share
  • a couple or children who cannot share because of a disability or medical condition
  • an overnight carer for you, your partner, your child or another adult - this is only if the carer does not live with you but sometimes has to stay overnight

One spare bedroom is allowed for:

  • an approved foster carer who is between placements but only for up to 52 weeks from the end of the last placement
  • a newly approved foster carer for up to 52 weeks from the date of approval if no child is placed with them during that time

Rooms used by students and members of the armed or reserve forces will not be counted as 'spare' if they’re away and intend to return home.

You can find out the total number of bedrooms that your household is entitled to using a online bedroom entitlement calculator and compare this to the actual number of bedrooms in the property to work out whether you will be under-occupying the property.

What happens if I can't pay?

If your Housing Benefit has been reduced and you can't afford to pay your rent, you should contact your Housing Officer for advice immediately.