You may be entitled to a bedroom tax refund if you lived in the same home and claimed housing benefit continuously from before 1 January 1996.
Are you affected by the bedroom tax loophole?
In January 2014, the UK government announced that the bedroom tax should not have applied to people who had claimed housing benefit continuously for the same home since 1 January 1996.
Your council owes you money if that applied to you. All money cut from your housing benefit in bedroom tax from 1 April 2013 to 2 March 2014 should be refunded into your rent account.
The UK government closed the loophole on 3 March 2014. Bedroom tax deductions applied again from that date.
How to ask for a refund of bedroom tax
You may still be entitled to a refund even though the loophole has closed.
Ask the council for a review of your housing benefit award from 1 April 2013.
Write to your housing benefit office. Tell them when you first claimed housing benefit and how long you have continuously claimed for. Provide details of any short breaks in your claim.
If you fit the criteria, you should get a full refund for 1 April 2013 to 2 March 2014.
Use Shelter's sample letter to ask for a bedroom tax refund.
Can you keep discretionary housing payments?
You should be able to keep discretionary housing payments made by your council between 1 April 2013 and 2 March 2014, even if those payments were made to help cover the bedroom tax.
Refunds if your housing benefit was interrupted
The bedroom tax loophole applies if you claimed housing benefit continuously for the same home since 1 January 1996. But in these situations, you could also be entitled to a refund.
1. Only had a short break in your claim
Some breaks in your housing benefit claim aren't counted in loophole calculations. You are treated as being continuously entitled to housing benefit if you stopped claiming for four weeks or less, or if you or your partner were on a welfare to work scheme and you stopped claiming for 52 weeks or less.
2. Had to move home
You could still be covered if you had to move because your home was so badly affected by fire, flood, explosion or a natural disaster that you couldn't stay in it.
Use Shelter's sample letter to request a bedroom tax refund if you had to temporarily move home.
3. Your partner left home
The loophole may have applied if you split up from your partner who was claiming housing benefit from 1 January 1996 or earlier and you claimed housing benefit for the same home within four weeks of that person leaving.
Use Shelter's sample letter to ask for a bedroom tax refund because you took over the tenancy when your partner left or was sent to prison.
4. If someone died
You may be entitled to a refund if you took over a housing benefit claim from someone who died. Your partner, relative or family member must have originally claimed housing benefit from 1 January 1996 or earlier and continued to claim until their death.
You must have been living together in the same home on the date the person died.
You must have made your claim for housing benefit within four weeks of the person's death.
Use Shelter's sample letter to ask for a bedroom tax refund because you took over a tenancy after a death.
Records to prove the loophole applied
Ask your council or housing association if records they have for you go back to 1996. You aren't expected to have housing benefit letters or rent statements from then at home.
Look for evidence that shows how long you've been in your home. Use official records such as:
- phone bills and utility bills
- health records such as registration with a GP
- the electoral register
If you have received benefits, you could show when you first claimed benefits. Your doctor may have records of signing you off, or certificates to confirm you couldn't work. Letters sent to hospitals can also help.
If you worked, check for records of your P60s for tax, wage slips, contracts of employment or letters from employers.
Get advice about the bedroom tax loophole
Ask a welfare rights adviser to help you write to the council about a refund. Use our directory to find your nearest advice agency.
You can appeal to a tribunal if your council won't agree to a refund.