The Bedroom Tax
If you are a council or housing association tenant, your housing benefit will be cut if you have more bedrooms than your family is seen as needing. This is commonly described as 'the bedroom tax'. These rules also apply to help with rent under the Universal Credit system.This page can help you find out if you are affected.
The following video has more information
When might you be affected
If you rent your home from a social housing landlord such as the council or a housing association and you are of working age, the help you receive for your housing costs may be reduced. This could happen if your home is considered too large for you - for example, if your children have grown up and left home and you now have a spare bedroom.
You won't be affected if you or your partner are no longer of working age. This is the age at which you can get Pension Credit. If you're a woman, this is the same as your State Pension age. If you're a man, it's the State Pension age for a woman the same age as you. It doesn't matter whether you actually get Pension Credit, or whether you're still working or not, it's about whether you're counted as being over working age.
When will your home count as too big for you?
If you have more bedrooms than the government says you need, your home will be counted as being too big for you. If this happens, you could lose some or all of your housing costs.
It's normally up to your landlord to say how many bedrooms your home has. Your tenancy agreement will usually say this.
You're allowed one bedroom for each person living in your home unless they're expected to share. Two people are expected to share one bedroom if they're:
- Two adults in a couple
- Two children aged 10 or under
- Two children aged 16 or under, if they're the same sex.
Adults in a couple don't have to share a room if one of them has a disability which means they have to sleep apart. The disabled partner also needs to get a disability benefit.
A child is allowed their own bedroom if they have a disability that means they can't share a room.
Find out more about when disabled children and adults don't need to share a room.
Getting an extra bedroom for someone who doesn't live with you
You can get an extra bedroom for a person who doesn't always live with you if:
- you have an adult child in the Armed Forces
- you're a foster carer
- someone who lives with you needs an overnight carer
Otherwise, you can only have a bedroom for people who live with you all the time. This means you'll get less Housing Benefit if you have a spare room for children who've moved out but sometimes come to stay.
If someone normally lives with you but is away from home, they still count as living with you, if they meet these conditions:
- they intend to return to live with you
- you haven't sublet their room
- if they're in the UK, they aren't likely to be away for more than 13 weeks
- if they're outside the UK, they aren't likely to be away for more than 4 weeks
Someone can still count as living with you if they're away for up to a year if they intend to come home and are in hospital, or away studying or training.
What happens if your home is too big for you?
If your home is considered to be too big for you, the rent used to work out your Housing Benefit (including any eligible service charges) is cut by:
- 14% if you have one spare bedroom
- 25% if you have two or more spare bedrooms.
This means you get less Housing Benefit than you would otherwise do. Some people may lose all of their Housing Benefit, particularly if they were only getting a small amount to start with.
You may also be affected by the benefit cap, which is a cap on the total amount of benefits you can get.
For more information, including practical help and support please contact your Neighbourhood Officer or Income Officer.