How to deal with the bedroom tax
The bedroom tax cuts your universal credit housing element or housing benefit if you are:
classed as having a spare bedroom
a council or housing association tenant
It is sometimes called the under occupancy charge, or removal of the spare room subsidy.
If you are pension age
Your benefit will not be affected by the bedroom tax if either:
you do not have a partner who lives with you
your partner lives with you and is also pension age
Your benefit could be affected by the bedroom tax if your partner is below pension age and you claim universal credit as a couple.
Find out more about housing benefit if you are pension age.
How much benefit you lose
The bedroom tax reduces the amount of your rent that can be paid by universal credit or housing benefit.
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 have to pay the part of your rent that is not covered by your benefit.
Ask for a discretionary housing payment top up
A discretionary housing payment (DHP) is an extra payment from your council if you are struggling to pay rent because of things like the bedroom tax.
Contact your council's discretionary housing payments team
What is your location?
You can consider moving to a smaller council or housing association home through a:
It is not usually 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. You also have little protection from eviction.
It could also be very hard to get another council or housing association tenancy.
If a friend or family member moves in
You will not be affected by the bedroom tax if a friend or family member moves into your spare room and they do not pay rent.
A deduction can still made from your benefit because they're expected to contribute to your rent while they live with you.
This is called a:
Check the deduction is less than the cut in benefit under the bedroom tax or you could be worse off.
Taking in a lodger
You can take in a lodger if you have a:
With other tenancy types you will usually need your landlord's permission to rent out any spare rooms.
How lodgers affect universal credit
Your housing element is still reduced by the bedroom tax if you rent the room out to a lodger.
But all rental income from your lodger is ignored. So you could charge your lodger an amount that covers what you lose under the bedroom tax.
How lodgers affect housing benefit
You no longer count as having a spare bedroom if you rent it out to a lodger.
Some rental income from a lodger counts as income so could reduce your housing benefit in another way.
If you provide a meal such as breakfast, these amounts of rental income will not count:
£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.
Challenge a bedroom tax decision
Ask for a review of the decision if you think your benefit has been worked out wrongly.
Find out more from Citizens Advice about challenging a:
Last updated: 17 July 2022