Under-occupancy (‘bedroom tax’)
Under-occupancy in relation to Housing Benefit determines what size property the Government believes a resident needs. If a resident has more bedrooms that the Government believes they need they are classed as under-occupying a home and the amount of Housing Benefit they receive will be reduced. These rules apply to anyone under state pension age.
The Government introduced new under-occupancy guidance in 2013 due to the shortage of family homes in the UK. The aim is to encourage those living in large properties to downsize if appropriate, so that large families can get access to suitable homes.
Who is entitled to a bedroom?
Residents that are entitled to one bedroom each are as follows:
- an adult couple
- single adults age 16 and over
- a single child under the age of 16
- two children of the same sex under the age of 16
- two children of any sex under the age of 10
An additional bedroom will be allowed for:
- a child with severe disabilities who is unable to share a room
- a foster child living with an approved foster carer
- a foster carer between placements of up to one year
- a newly approved foster carer pending a placement of up to one year
- a non-resident overnight carer
- a member of the armed forces who is away on operations and who intends to return to the dwelling
How much Housing Benefit will a resident receive if they under-occupy a property?
If a resident is classed as under-occupying a property the amount of Housing Benefit they receive will be reduced by the following:
- for properties that are under-occupied by one bedroom the total Housing Benefit entitlement will be reduced by 14 per cent
- for properties that are under-occupied by two or more bedrooms the total Housing Benefit entitlement will be reduced by 25 per cent
What can residents do if they under-occupy a property?
If a resident is classes as under-occupying a property they have the following options:
- remain in the property and pay any shortfall in rent themselves
- apply to move to a property with fewer bedrooms
- allow a lodger to live in a spare room (please note this could affect the amount of Housing Benefit you are entitled to).