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Under occupation and Housing Benefit

Row of terrace houses

What is under occupation?

Under occupation is where the government believes you are living in a property that is bigger than you need. There are a shortage of family homes across the country. The government are going to reduce the amount of Housing Benefit to help with this. They will reduce housing benefit to people who are living in social rented sector tenancies and are under occupying. This includes local authority tenants and tenants of social housing and registered social landlords.

You are classed as under occupying your home if you have more bedrooms than you need.

You need one bedroom for each of the following:

  • A couple
  • A person who is not a child (aged 16 and over)
  • Two children of the same sex
  • Two children who are under 10
  • Any other child (other than a foster child or child whose main home is elsewhere)
  • A carer (or group of carers) who provide overnight care

What is the change?

If you are classed as under occupying, the amount of Housing Benefit you receive will be reduced.

There are two rates for the reduction:

  • If you have one extra bedroom the maximum amount of benefit we could pay would be reduced by 14%. This is before any means test is applied
  • If you have two or more extra bedrooms the maximum amount of benefit we could pay would be reduced by 25%. This is before any means test is applied 

Who is affected?

Everyone claiming Housing Benefit, living in a social rented sector tenancy, aged between 16 and pension age will be affected.

Those of pensionable age will be excluded from the under occupation changes.

Extra help

Extra help may be made available by a Discretionary Housing Payment for those who are affected by this change. This money is intended primarily for:

  • Those that have to remain in their property as it has been adapted to suit their disability
  • Those who have to keep a room spare as they are registered foster carers

Please note that the Discretionary Housing Payment fund has a limited budget. Once used no further money is released from central government until the next financial year.

What are my options?

You have a number of options. You can: 

  • Pay the difference yourself and stay where you are
  • Move to a property with the number of bedrooms for your family size. Ask your landlord for more details or register on the Choice Based Lettings Scheme
  • Take a lodger in to use your extra bedroom. You should be aware that doing so could affect the amount of Housing Benefit you are entitled to

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