About Size Criteria (Bedroom tax)
Only working age people are affected by the Bedroom Tax.
If you are of working age and live with a pensioner, the reduction will be applied to the eligible rent (the amount you pay minus any ineligible service charges) before the Council apportions the share of the rent for benefit purposes.
Mr and Mrs Freestone are an elderly mother and adult son who share the tenancy of a 3 bed Council house.
The rent for the property is £80 per week.
According to the government's rules they need a 2 bed house, so their eligible rent will reduce to £68.80 because a 14% reduction will apply as Mr Freestone is over accommodated.
The restriction does not apply to Mrs Freestone, so her Housing Benefit will be based on £40pw.
Mr Freestone will therefore have his benefit based on a restricted rent of £28.80.
There is no general exemption for disabled people, as the government have stated that there is already sufficient allowance for disabled people through the provision for an extra room where the tenant has an overnight carer.
The only exception at the moment is people living in supported accommodation (sheltered housing).
The size criteria rules will not apply to:
- Shared Ownership
If you part own the property under a shared ownership lease, usually with a housing association. You may well have a mortgage on your share of the property while renting the rest.
- Temporary Accommodation
If you are placed in temporary accommodation to prevent homelessness.
- Supported Accommodation
Some supported accommodation is exempt but not all of it.
The changes came into effect on 1st April 2013 for all working age Housing Benefit and Universal Credit claimants, including existing claimants.
How will the number of bedrooms needed be worked out?You will be allowed one bedroom for each of the following:
- Every adult couple
- Any other adult aged 16 or over
- Any two children of the same sex aged under 16
- Any two children regardless of sex aged under 10
- Any other child aged under sixteen
- Non resident carer (claimant/partner have disability and need overnight care)
- A foster child
- A son/daughter in the armed forces (who normally lives at the property)
From 4 December 2013
- A disabled child unable to share a room with their sibling when they would normally be expected to do so if criteria met.
If you have more bedrooms than allowed for by the size criteria then you are under-occupying and your Housing Benefit is likely to be reduced.
What counts as a bedroom?
When your landlord sets the rent they will normally have to define the number of bedrooms you have and this should be stated on your tenancy agreement.
How much will your Housing Benefit be reduced by?
If you live in property that is under occupied then the ‘eligible rent’ (the amount you pay minus any ineligible service charges) used to calculate your Housing Benefit will be reduced by a percentage:
- One bedroom too many: 14% reduction
- Two or more bedrooms too many: 25% reduction
If the amount of Housing Benefit you currently receive is less than the rent restriction then you may not receive anything at all after April 2013.
Worried about how benefit changes might affect you? Phone lines are open 9.00am to 5.00pm, Monday to Friday.
Advisers at Access Oldham can talk you through the benefits, how to claim them & additional support.
Oldham, OL1 1UG
(For Sat Navs use OL1 1NL)