Rent Restrictions for Social Tenants from April 2013

What is under-occupation?

Under-occupation is where the government believes you are living in a property that is bigger than you need.  Because there is a shortage of family homes across the country, the government is going to reduce the amount of Housing Benefit for people who are under-occupying.  The aim is to encourage people with bigger homes ot move to somewhere smaller, so that providers can deliver accommodation to families needing larger homes.

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

Size criteria for under-occupation

One bedroom is allowed for each of the following categories of occupier and each occupier may only be in one category:

  • every adult couple, and
  • any other adult aged at least 16 years, and
  • any two children of the same sex aged under 16 years, and
  • any two children regardless of sex aged under 10 years, and
  • any other child aged under 16 years, and
  • a carer where the claimant and / or his partner is a person who requires overnight care

Using this size criteria you would be classed as over-occupying your home if you were, for example:

  • a single person or a couple living in a two bedroom property
  • a couple with one child living in a three bedroom property

How will this affect my Housing Benefit?

If you are classed as under-occupying, the amount of Housing Benefit you will receive will be reduced.  The reduction in Housing Benefit will be calculated by a reduction of:

  • 14% of the total eligible rent for under-occupation by one bedroom; and
  • 25% of the total eligible rent for under-occupation by two bedrooms or more

When will the changes happen?

This change will come into force for all existing and new claimants to Housing Benefit from 1 April 2013.  There are no exceptions apart from those listed below.

Cases not subject to a restriction

How will I know if I will be affected?

You can work out if you are likely to be affected by checking if you have more bedrooms than your family needs.  If you are already claiming Housing Benefit and live in social housing, the Housing Benefit department will write to you in early 2013 to let you know if you will be affected on your current circumstances.  It is very important that we hold the correct information about the number of people living in your household.  You should check your benefit letters to make sure the information we hold about you and your family is correct and up to date.  If you believe that we are holding the wrong information, you should contact us immediately. 

What are my options?

There are several options which claimants might wish to consider, these include:

  • Staying in the same property and make up the shortfall between the Housing Benefit and rent charged using current household income
  • Taking in a boarder / lodger – this should only be done with the agreement of the landlord.  ·       
  • Asking family members to contribute more to the household budget
  • Taking a job or increasing hours of work
  • Moving to a more appropriately sized property
  • Making a claim for a Discretionary Housing Payment - you can apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment by completing the form below


Downloadable Documents

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