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Under Occupancy - What do the changes mean?

Please note, people of pensionable age will not be affected by the changes to Benefits and Council Tax.

If you rent your home from a Social Housing Landlord or Housing Association, new rules mean that housing benefit will be reduced if you have more bedrooms than the new rules say that you need, for example if your children have grown up and left home.

You will have to pay the difference yourself out of your other benefits or income.

Working out your entitlement to bedrooms

  • Children of different sexes under the age of 10 will be expected to share a bedroom
  • Children of the same sex under the age of 16 will be expected to share a bedroom
  • Each adult aged 16 or over, or couple can have their own bedroom
  • A non resident overnight carer can have their own bedroom
  • Approved foster carers who have a child placed with them will qualify for an additional room, as will approved or newly approved carers who are waiting for their first placement or are between placements.
  • We may allow an extra bedroom for children whose severe disabilities mean they are unable to share (supporting evidence will be required)
  • Adult children who are in the armed forces but who continue to live with parents, will be treated as continuing to live at home, when deployed on operations

No extra bedrooms will be allowed for visitors, for example, children who normally live with a partner you have separated from.
Any children must be living with you full time for the Housing Benefit rules to allow them to count towards the number of bedrooms you need. 

Exemptions

These changes will not affect you or your partner if you are old enough to receive pension credits. In April 2013 the pension credit age will be around 61 years and 6 months. You can check for Pension Credit Qualifying age on GOV.UK. The Under Occupancy rules also applies only to customers in Housing Association properties, eg Wyre Forest Community Housing or Nexus, or if you rent your home from a registered Social Housing Landlord.

People in supported accommodation are exempt if care support or supervision is provided by their Landlord and people in shared ownership properties are also exempt.

What will I have to pay if I have more bedrooms than I need?

If you have one more bedroom than the new rules say you need, your Housing Benefit will be cut by 14%. If you have two or more spare bedrooms it will be cut by 25%.

For example;

  • Miss Jones lives in a three bedroom house and is not currently working. She has 2 children aged 3 and 1. Under the new rules they will be under occupying their property as they only require two bedrooms as the girls will be expected to share until they turn 16. Housing Benefit will not cover 14% of the rent. She will have to pay £14 each week of her £100 rent.
  • Mr Brown currently lives in a two bedroom flat on his own and is claiming Jobseeker's Allowance. Under the new rules he will be under occupying the flat as he only requires one bedroom. Therefore Housing Benefit will not cover 14% of the rent. He will have to pay £11.20 each week of his £80 rent.

What can you do now?

If you feel you will not be able to afford to pay the extra amount and wish to move to a smaller property you will need to register on the local housing register at

Home Choice

or you can register an interest in

mutually exchanging your property (Home Swap).

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Wyre Forest District Council