From 1st April 2013 all working-age tenants renting in the social sector will receive housing benefit based on the number of bedrooms their household requires.
This means that people living in houses larger than they need (under-occupiers) may lose part of their housing benefit:
Those with one spare bedroom will lose 14% of their housing benefit
Those with two or more spare bedrooms will lose 25% of their housing benefit
How many bedrooms will I be entitled to?
When working out how many bedrooms a household is entitled to the following criteria is applied:
1 bedroom for each adult or adult couple
1 bedroom for every 2 children under the age of 10 (regardless of gender)
1 bedroom for every 2 children under the age of 16 if they are the same gender
1 bedroom for any other child
1 bedroom for a non-resident carer - if providing care for the tenant or their partner
What are my options?
These changes will have a significant impact on the amount of housing benefit many existing customers will be entitled to. The following ideas could be considered to help cover the shortfall:
Move home - is there the ability to move to more appropriately sized social rented accommodation with the help of your landlord. Alternatively, have you considered looking at privately rented accommodation to find the right sized property for your household.
Rent out the spare bedroom(s) - can you get the agreement with your landlord to take in a boarder or lodger to fill any unoccupied room? This would mean the room would not be treated as unoccupied for the purposes of applying the size criteria rule and you may find you are better off due to the additional income.
Have family members contribute more - if you have other non-dependants living in your property the excess rent may be covered through new or increased contributions.
Move in to work / increase hours - moving into work or increasing working hours may increase your income and help to cover any reduction in Housing Benefit.