Since 1 April 2013, new housing benefit rules mean you won’t be able to get housing benefit to pay for all of your rent if your home has ‘spare bedrooms’. This media has called this the ‘bedroom tax’.
If you’re a council or housing association tenant and are receiving housing benefit and renting a home that has more bedrooms than you need, it’s likely that your housing benefit will be reduced. The new limit on the number of rooms you can claim housing benefit for is based on the number of people living in your home.
If you have more bedrooms than the new rules say you require, you will be treated as ‘under-occupying’ your home and will get less of your rent paid for by housing benefit.
If housing benefit no longer covers the full cost of your rent, you will have to pay the rest of the rent yourself. This must be paid directly to your landlord. If you don’t pay the balance of your housing benefit and you get behind with your rent you could end up with a Notice for Possession being served on you.
So how much will your housing benefit be reduced by well:
- 14% will be taken off if you have one extra bedroom.
- 25% will be taken off if you have two extra bedrooms.
So, if you have one ‘spare bedroom’ and your rent is £100 per week, only £86 will count when your housing benefit is assessed. You will have to pay at least £14 to your landlord yourself.
If you have two or more ‘spare bedrooms’, and your rent is £100 per week, only £75 will count when your housing benefit is assessed. You will have to pay at least £25 to your landlord yourself.
So what can you claim housing benefits for now? Under the new rules you can only claim housing benefit for:
- one bedroom for a couple
- one bedroom for a person aged 16 or over
- one bedroom for two children aged under 16 of the same sex
- one bedroom for two children aged under 10 (boys and girls are expected to share a room)
- one bedroom for any other child
- one extra bedroom if you or your partner needs an overnight carer to stay.
Severely disabled children who need their own room will not be required to share a room. However the decision will be made by the Council who should take into account the severity of a child’s disability, so you will need to provide medical evidence or proof of an award of disability living allowance if one has been made) and how regularly another child’s sleep would be disturbed if they shared a room, so you may need to provide DVD evidence of your severely disabled child’s sleeping patterns
If you became an approved foster carer in the last 12 months you can count a room for a foster child.
If your child or partner or lodger is a member of the armed forces who is serving away, providing they intend to return to your home, you can count their room and if your child or partner etc is a student and they are away from home studying, you can count their room providing they are only away temporarily (less than 52 weeks) and intend to return home.
You won’t be allowed to claim housing benefit for ‘extra’ rooms that are used for:
- children visiting a divorced or separated parent
- couples who use separate bedrooms because of illness or disability
- rooms used by disabled adults to store medical equipment.
If you or a member of your family are a disabled adult living in adapted or specially designed properties you may face cuts to your housing benefit, but it might not be practical or affordable for you to move. It might be possible to claim a discretionary housing benefit, give us a ring or e-mail us and we can help you with making that claim.
Affordable Law For You Limited
This blogpost is for information purposes and should not be relied upon as legal advice because it does not consider or take into account your own personal circumstances. If in doubt, seek legal advice.