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Extra Bedrooms

If you are of working age, in a housing association owned property and have one or more ‘spare’ bedrooms, your housing benefit may be reduced.

You will be affected if:

• You are of working age (which is from the age of 16 until you receive your state pension)
• You get any housing benefit, even if it’s a small amount

You won’t be affected if:

• You or your partner have received your state pension
• You part-own the property under a shared ownership lease
• You have been placed in temporary accommodation by us under the homelessness legislation of the Housing Act 1996

What is classed as a ‘spare’ bedroom?

The rules mean that a bedroom is classed as ‘spare’ unless it is being used by:

• An adult couple
• Any other person aged 16 or over
• Two children of the same sex under the age of 16
• Two children under the age of ten regardless of their sex
• Any other child
• A carer (who does not normally live with you) if you or your partner need overnight care
• A foster child
Foster children do not count as part of your household when calculating your benefit award.

It does not matter how the ‘spare’ bedroom is used, the rules apply even if:

•You and your partner need to sleep apart because of a medical condition
•Your children mainly live at another address, but you have a spare room for when they stay with you

What if you or your partner has a disability?

The only time that housing benefit may be paid for a ‘spare’ bedroom due to you or your partner’s disability is where:

• You have a carer who lives elsewhere, and;
• You or your partner receive the middle or high rate care as part of the of disability living allowance and need overnight care, and;
• The carer uses the extra bedroom to stay overnight on a regular basis to provide care for you or your partner

How much will you lose?

If you have one spare bedroom your housing benefit is cut by 14% each week. If you have two or more spare bedrooms your housing benefit is cut by 25% each week.

Where your benefit has been cut it is up to you to pay the difference to stop you getting behind with your rent payments. You need to make the payments direct to your landlord.

Case One

Matt is single, aged 35 and lives in a two bedroom flat where the rent is £75 a week. He lost his job recently and gets £75 a week housing benefit to cover his rent; this gets paid directly to his landlord. He has access to his daughter at weekends.

Under the rules Matt is living in a property larger than he needs as his daughter does not live with him full-time.

Matt’s rent for housing benefit will be reduced by £10.50 a week, his landlord will only receive £64.50 a week and he will have to pay the shortfall of £10.50 to his landlord out of his Jobseeker’s Allowance.

Case Two

Gail is a single parent with two teenage boys aged 13 and 15. She works part-time and gets a small amount of housing benefit to help her pay her rent of £90 a week. She lives in a three bedroom house.

Gail is living in a property larger than she needs as her two sons are both under 16.

Gail’s rent for housing benefit will be reduced by £12.60 a week and she will have to find this extra money for her rent out of her income.

Case Three

Tapir and Rahim both aged 55, live in a three bedroomed house. Their children have all grown up and left the family home. Their rent is £110 a week. Tahir has worked all his life but due to ill health he has had to give up work and now claims disability benefit.

Under the new rules, Tapir and Rahim are living in a property larger than they need.

Their rent for housing benefit will be reduced by £27.50 a week and they will have to make up the difference and pay this to their landlord as well as the rent already due.

Case Four

Brenda is 66 years old and lives in a two bedroomed flat. As Brenda is not of ‘working age’ she is not affected by the ‘bedroom tax’ and there are no changes to her housing benefit entitlement.

Ways to prepare

Make sure you are claiming all the benefits you are entitled to. If you are not sure visit the website or pop into the Gateway to speak with one of our advisors.

Check your outgoings and see how you can manage with less money so that you can still pay your rent

Think about how you’ll pay the difference if your housing benefit is cut

If you are working, is there an opportunity to increase your hours?

If you have adult children or other adult household members, could they pay more towards your rent?

Think about getting a lodger to use and pay for the spare room. It’s important to check with your landlord first to see if your tenancy agreement allows you to do this.

It may also affect the amount of other benefits you receive, including the Housing Benefit so it is important that you get advice before making any decisions.

You may decide that you would like to move to a smaller home. You could find someone to swap with or apply for a transfer.

We're here to give you help and support if you need it.

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