Under occupation

Housing Benefit is reduced for some people who are living in a property larger than required for their household size. This applies to working age people renting from a social landlord such as the Council or a housing association.

It does not apply to pensioners.

What are the rules? 

The rules restrict the size of accommodation you can receive Housing Benefit for, based on the number of people in your household. The rules allow for 1 bedroom for:

  • every adult couple (married or unmarried)
  • any other adult aged 16 or over
  • any two children of the same sex aged under 16
  • any two children aged under 10
  • any other child (other than a child whose main home is elsewhere)
  • a carer (or team of carers) who do not live with you but provide you and your partner with overnight care
  • a disabled person in receipt of certain disability benefits, where they are physically unable to share a room
  • an approved foster carer, who is between placements (up to 52 weeks from the end of the last placement)
  • a newly approved foster carer (up to 52 weeks from the date of approval), if no child is placed with them during that time

What does under-occupying mean?

If someone is assessed as having more bedrooms in their accommodation than is necessary, they will be under-occupying that property.

This means they will get a reduction on their Housing Benefit.

Under-occupying is also known as 'Bedroom Tax'.

If I am under-occupying, what reduction will I get in my Housing Benefit?

  • 14% of your eligible rent for under-occupying one bedroom
  • 25% of your eligible rent for under-occupying by two bedrooms or more

If you are thinking of moving, you need to consider these changes before you renew or make a new tenancy agreement.

If your Housing Benefit is cut, you will have to pay the difference between your Housing Benefit and rent to your housing provider.

What are my options?

  • pay the difference between your rent and the amount of Housing Benefit you receive
  • move to a smaller property (visit Gateway to Homechoice's website for more information about social housing transfers)
  • look at the possibility of taking in a lodger - you could rent out your additional room(s) to a lodger for additional income. You would need to check that your landlord allows this. Additional income received from a lodger may count as extra income, so you would need to report this as a change in your circumstances

If you don't want to move, you can remain in your present home but you will have to pay any shortfall in rent due to any extra unoccupied or 'spare' bedrooms. 

If you have a specific reason for needing to stay in your property, such as disability, you may be able to apply for Discretionary Housing Payments

Who does under-occupying not apply to?

  • anyone who lives in a one bedroom flat or bed-sit
  • anyone who is old enough to receive Pension Credits
  • anyone whose partner is old enough to receive Pension Credits
  • anyone with a shared ownership property

My house has been adapted to cater for my disability - am I included in the size limit rules?

Other than the cases stated above, there are no exceptions to the application of the size limit rules.

Someone in my household has a disability and is not able to share a room - will I be allowed an extra room for them?

You may be able to receive an extra room allowance if you have a disabled person who is unable to share a bedroom. The disabled person must be in receipt of:

  • the care component of Disability Living Allowance (middle or high rate)
  • Personal Independence Payment
  • Attendance Allowance or
  • Armed Forces Independent Payment

If you think this applies to someone in your household, please complete the Extra Bedroom form

I have a carer (or team of carers) who do not live with me but provide me and my partner with overnight care. What can I do?

They may be entitled to a bedroom. Complete the Additional Bedroom for Overnight Carers form to provide us with details and we will give you a decision. 


Under Occupation - Frequently Asked Questions