Under occupancy and how it affects me?

Under Occupancy or “Bedroom Tax” was introduced by the Government on 1st April 2013 for social housing residents. It is a reduction in the amount of housing benefit or universal credit that you receive if you have one or more spare bedrooms.

The amount of housing benefit or universal credit you receive will be reduced by 14%, if you are deemed to have one spare bedroom or 25%, if you have two or more spare bedrooms. This means that you will be required to make up the shortfall so that you do not fall into rent arrears.

For example, if your weekly rent is £100 and you have 1 spare bedroom your entitlement will be reduced by 14% which means you will need to pay £14 rent to your landlord.

The Government states that:

  • A single person aged over 16 amd above must have their own bedroom
  • A couple must have their own bedroom
  • Children of either sex are required to share a bedroom if aged under 10
  • Children of the same sex are required to share a bedroom if aged under 16

If you have shared access to your children and they stay overnight you will still be deemed to have a spare room/s unless you are the parent in receipt of child benefit.

There are certain exceptions to the above rules, however:

  • If you, your partner, your child, foster child or non-dependants are disabled and you have a carer who sleeps at your property to allow care to be provided a room can be allocated for that carer
  • If you or your partner is a Foster carer you are allocated one extra room regardless of the number of children that you foster

  • If you have a son or daughter who is serving in the armed forces and away on duty their room will not be deemed spare provided your home is their permanent address

  • If you have a child who is away at college or University who will return their room will not be deemed spare provided your home is their permanent address

It is important to consider that the requirements may differ, subject to whether you are receiving housing benefit or universal credit.

Under occupancy will not apply to you if:

  • You, you are married and your wife or husband, or partner is of Pension Credit age and in receipt of housing benefit
  • You are in temporary accommodation
  • You live in supported accommodation which is classed as exempt