What is ‘bedroom tax’?
Since 1 April 2013, new housing benefit rules mean you won’t be able to get housing benefit to pay for all of your rent if your home has ‘spare bedrooms’. This is being called the ‘bedroom tax’, but letters from the council may call it ‘size limit rules’, ‘under-occupancy’ or ‘under-occupancy rules’.
If you’re a council or housing association tenant of working age receiving housing benefit and renting a home that has more bedrooms than you need, it’s likely that your housing benefit will be reduced. Pensioners claiming housing benefit won’t be affected.
How much will be housing benefit be reduced by?
Before the ‘bedroom tax’ changes, housing benefit calculations counted 100% of your ‘eligible rent’ as a starting point for assessing how much housing benefit you would be paid. ‘Eligible rent’ covers rent charges but not other charges such as heating that you may also pay to your council or housing association landlord.
From 1 April 2013, if you have more bedrooms than the new ‘bedroom tax’ rules say you need, your ‘eligible rent’ will be reduced:
- 14% will be taken off if you have one extra bedroom.
- 25% will be taken off if you have two (or more) extra bedrooms.
How many bedrooms can you claim housing benefit for?
From April 2013, new rules on ‘under occupancy’ mean that you can only claim housing benefit for:
- one bedroom for a couple
- one bedroom for a person aged 16 or over
- one bedroom for two children aged under 16 of the same sex
- one bedroom for two children aged under 10 (boys and girls are expected to share a room)
- one bedroom for any other child
- one extra bedroom if you or your partner needs an overnight carer to stay.
How you could be affected by bedroom tax
You won’t be allowed to claim housing benefit for ‘extra’ rooms that are used for:
- children visiting a divorced or separated parent
- couples who use separate bedrooms because of illness or disability
- rooms used by disabled adults to store medical equipment.
How you will pay rent under the new rules
If the housing benefit you receive at the moment doesn’t cover all your rent and other charges, you may already be paying your landlord the difference between the housing benefit and the rent. If you are affected by the new ‘bedroom tax’ rules, the amount you pay may go up, but you will pay your landlord in the same way
Until now, housing benefit may have covered the full cost of your rent. But from April 2013, being classed as ‘under-occupying your home’ will mean that you will receive a reduced amount of housing benefit. You will have to start paying some of your rent yourself.
Worried about paying your rent?
If these new ‘bedroom tax’ rules affect you, you’re probably worried about how you will manage with less money. Your first priority should always be to pay the rent – if you fall into arrears, you could lose your home. You need to get advise please call.