Find out what to do if your housing benefit or universal credit is reduced because you're a council or housing association tenant with a spare bedroom.
What is the bedroom tax?
The bedroom tax is a cut in housing benefit or the universal credit housing element if you're:
- working age
- classed as having a spare bedroom
- a council or housing association tenant
It's sometimes called the under-occupancy charge, the social rented sector size criteria or removal of the spare room subsidy.
You won't be affected if you - and your partner if you live with them - are pension age:
How much benefit you lose
The bedroom tax affects how much of your rent can be covered by housing benefit or the universal credit housing element.
The maximum rent that can be covered is reduced by:
- 14% for 1 spare bedroom
- 25% for 2 or more spare bedrooms
Example: If your rent is £100 a week, the maximum benefit you get to help with rent is:
- £86 if you have 1 spare room
- £75 if you have 2 spare rooms
You must pay the shortfall if the benefit you get is less than your rent.
Discretionary housing payments (DHPs)
A DHP is an extra payment that could help if you're struggling to pay rent.
It's paid by the council and you can apply if you already get:
- housing benefit
- universal credit housing element
Check your benefit entitlement
Make sure that you and any household members claim everything you're entitled to:
Ask a friend or family member to move in
You won't be affected by the bedroom tax if a friend or family member moves into your spare room and they don't pay rent.
In most cases, a deduction is still made from your benefit because they're expected to contribute to your rent while they live with you.
This is called a:
- non-dependent deduction if you get housing benefit
- housing costs contribution if you get universal credit
Check the deduction is less than the cut in benefit under the bedroom tax or you could be worse off.
Take in a lodger
You have a right to take in a lodger if you have a:
If you have a different type of tenancy you may need your landlord's permission to rent out the spare room.
If you get housing benefit
You won't be affected by the bedroom tax if you rent out the spare room to a lodger. Some of the rent they pay you counts as income and some is ignored.
If you provide a meal such as breakfast, the following rental income from a lodger is ignored:
- £20 a week
- 50% of any rental income above £20 a week
Your housing benefit is reduced by 65p for every £1 of extra income you get from a lodger above these amounts.
If you get universal credit
You'll still be affected by the bedroom tax if you rent the spare room to a lodger.
However, all rental income from your lodger is ignored so this can offset what you lose under the bedroom tax.
It's rarely a good idea to give up a council or housing association home to move into a private tenancy even if you find one at a cheaper rent.
This is because private rents can increase quickly, and you have little protection from eviction if the landlord decides they want the property back.
Challenge a bedroom tax decision
Ask for a review of the decision if you think your benefit has been calculated wrongly.
First, you should check how many bedrooms you can claim for under the rules.
Find out how to challenge a:
Still need help?
If you have rent arrears:
Last updated 15 May 2019 | © Shelter
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