Bedroom Tax - Under Occupancy
Bedroom Tax (in the UK) is an informal name for a measure introduced in the Welfare Reform Act 2012, by which the amount of housing benefit paid to a claimant is reduced if the property they are renting is judged to have more bedrooms than necessary.
Housing benefit or universal credit are benefits you can claim to help you pay your rent. However the amount you receive will be reduced if you are a council or housing association tenant, under pension credit age, and under-occupying your home. This is commonly referred to as the ‘bedroom tax’ or the ‘under-occupancy charge’.
The information set out below indicates the number of bedrooms you are entitled to as per the benefit rules. For each of the following categories, you will be entitled to one bedroom:
- adult couple
- single person or child aged 16 or over
- two children aged under 16 of the same gender
- two children aged under 10 regardless of their gender
- person who cannot share a bedroom because s/he is severely disabled.
A further bedroom may be allowed if you have a:
- carer because you or your partner is disabled and needs overnight care
- foster child or you are an approved foster carer
- son or daughter in the armed forces who will return to your home
- lodger (housing benefit only)
If there are more bedrooms in your home, to what the rules say you are allowed, your benefit will be reduced.
Bedroom tax will not apply to you if you have reached the qualifying age for pension credit. It makes no difference if you are not actually receiving it, just that you meet the correct age.
If you are married or have a partner, and one of you are of pension credit age the bedroom tax will not apply. However if you claim universal credit, you both must have reached pension credit age.
If you are not sure whether you have reached the age to qualify for pension credit you can use the Gov online state pension checker for clarification.
How much will my benefit be reduced by?
If you claim housing benefit this will be administered by the local authority. For Universal credit claimants it will be the DWP. The under occupancy, bedroom tax will be applied to your eligible rent. This means, the amount your rent actually is after any extra charges such as water costs have been deducted (a charge not covered by your benefit).
If you are affected because of the bedroom tax, the government has suggested the following:
- Make an application to the council for a discretionary housing payment which may cover the shortfall between your benefit and eligible rent
- Consider taking in a lodger. However this means taking on the responsibilities of a landlord, which includes carrying out a ‘right to rent’ immigration check (your landlord may do this for you). Also rent income from a lodger may affect the amount of income tax you pay or the welfare benefit income you receive
- Transfer to a smaller property. Some councils or housing associations will give you extra priority on their transfer list, and sometimes a cash incentive