The 'Bedroom Tax'

There is a limit on the number of bedrooms housing benefit will pay for, if you're renting from:

  • a local authority
  • a registered housing association
  • or other registered social landlord

The limit does not apply to tenants of pensionable age and the same rules already apply to most private tenants.

Accomodation size and housing benefit

The size of accommodation you can receive housing benefit for is based on the number of people living with you in your home. One bedroom is allowed for each of the following category:

  • every adult couple (married or unmarried)
  • any other adult aged 16 or over (this includes non-dependants who are currently on active service in the Armed Forces)
  • any two children of the same sex, aged under 16
  • any two children aged under 10 of the same or opposite sex
  • any other child, (other than a child whose main home is elsewhere)
  • a carer (or team of carers) who do not live with you but provide you or your partner with overnight care

Size limits, extra bedrooms and housing benefit

If you have one or more extra bedroom your housing benefit may be reduced. The maximum housing benefit allowed for rent will be reduced by:

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

Dealing with reduced housing benefit

If your housing benefit is reduced you could:

  • consider moving to appropriately-sized accommodation (talk to your landlord)
  • ask other members of the household to contribute more
  • take in a lodger or boarder (seek advice about your benefits and permissions first)
  • start work or increase your working hours to increase your income (seek advice about your entitlement to benefits first)

Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP) fund

If you can't afford a reduction in housing benefit but need to remain in your current home (for example if disabled adaptations have been carried out), Discretionary Housing Payments may be available.

DHP payments:

  • can help in exceptional circumstances
  • are available as short-term/temporary financial assistance towards housing costs

Exceptions to size limits

Thre are some exceptions to when size limits and having extra bedrooms do not affect housing benefit:

  • those in a shared ownership property - size limits will not apply to shared ownership cases
  • those of pension age - size limits will only apply to tenants of working age, any tenant over the qualifying age for state pension credit or with a partner over that age will be exempt
  • registered foster carers, who have a current year foster carer agreement
  • adult children who are in the Armed Forces but who continue to live with parents will be treated as continuing to live at home, even when deployed on operations
  • disabled children who need their own bedroom due to their medical condition and in receipt of middle or higher rate DLA care (decisions on individual cases are made using supporting medical information)

Joint tenants

If you live with someone else the size limit rules will take into account everyone living in the property when deciding whether you have 'extra' bedrooms for housing benefit purposes.

If it's decided you have extra bedrooms, a percentage reduction will be taken off:

  • the whole eligible rent
  • any eligible service charges

Your housing benefit will then be based on the proportion of the rent you are liable to pay.

Bereavement

You may be considered to have an extra bedroom following a death in your household.

In these circumstances you're protected and the size limit rules, which would not apply for 12 months, or until you move home, or there was another change of circumstances (whichever came first).

Housing associations

If your landlord is a housing association they should be able to advise on the prospects for changing accommodation so you don't have extra bedrooms. If you decide to stay in your current accommodation you will be able to discuss with your landlord how you will pay the additional rent.

Council tenants

If you are a council tenant in York and you have extra bedrooms/your housing benefit is being reduced, call us to discuss your options, on tel: 01904 551550, 8.30am to 5.00pm, Monday to Friday.

Citizens Advice Bureau(CAB)

The York and District Citizens Advice Bureau may be able to assist you.

Shelter

Shelter offers confidential housing, welfare benefits and debt advice through a network of advice services.

  • call the freephone Housing Advice Helpline on tel: 0808 800 4444 between 8.00am and 8.00pm, Monday to Friday and 8.00am and 5.00pm, Saturday and Sunday
  • or visit the Shelter website

National Debtline

National Debtline is a free, confidential service offering independent advice about dealing with debt.

Also see

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