Housing benefit - social housing bedroom restrictions

What changed?

From April 2013 the government introduced new rules that set out the number of bedrooms that your housing benefit or Universal Credit will pay for if you are renting from a local authority, a registered housing association or other registered social landlord.

The new rules restricted the size of accommodation you can receive benefit for based on the number of people in your household. It is possible, therefore, that the amount of housing benefit you get to pay your rent could go down. If you are thinking of moving you need to consider these changes before you renew or make a new tenancy agreement.

The rules will only apply to customers of working age. Any customer over state pension credit age or with a partner over state pension credit age will be exempt from the new rules

What is the reduction?

If you are seen to have more bedrooms than you need (under-occupying), then the amount of rent we can use when working out your benefit will be reduced by:

  •     14% for under-occupancy by one bedroom
  •     25% for under-occupancy by two bedrooms or more

How many bedrooms am I entitled to?

The new size limit rules allow one bedroom for:

  •     every adult couple (same or opposite sex)
  •     any other adult aged 16 or over
  •     any two children of the same sex aged under 16
  •     any two children under age 10
  •     any other child

There are some exceptions regarding foster carers, disabled children and armed forces personnel.

You can also be allowed an additional bedroom if you or your partner need regular overnight care from someone who does not normally live with you. We will not hold this information about you so if you feel this applies to you then contact the benefit helpline on 01242 264341.

What are my options?

If you are assessed as under-occupying your home and will experience a reduction in housing benefit there are a number of options open to you. You could:

  • move house. You may decide to move to appropriately sized accommodation in the social rented sector
  • ask non-dependents to contribute. If you choose to stay in your current home and make up the shortfall in rent yourself, you may wish to ask other non-dependents living with you to contribute more towards the additional rent
  • take in a lodger. Taking in a lodger to fill an extra bedroom may be a good option for some customers. The lodger would be assessed as part of the household, meaning you would no longer be considered as under-occupying and you may have more income due to the extra rent
  • increase your hours of work. If you are in employment you may consider increasing your working hours (if possible) to make up the shortfall in rent
  • take a job. If you are not currently employed, finding a job could help you to pay the additional rent
  • apply for an additional benefit. In certain circumstances you may be entitled to a short-term payment from the discretionary housing payment fund. Cheltenham Borough Council administer this fund for those we consider in real need of additional help with their housing costs

If you are a Cheltenham Borough Homes tenant and are considering moving to a smaller property then you should speak to your housing officer.

If you rent from any other social landlord, please contact their offices directly.