Under occupation (Bedroom tax)

Under occupation (Bedroom tax)

Back in April 2013, the Government reduced the amount of housing benefit paid to people of working age who have ‘spare’ bedrooms in their homes. The new size criteria (known as under-occupation or bedroom tax) means that any working age household deemed to be under-occupying will lose a percentage of their total eligible rent which will then be deducted from their housing benefit.

Under occupation (Bedroom tax) FAQs

The changes only apply if you are of working age and in receipt of housing benefit.

At the moment working age is someone less than 61 years old. From 2013, it is likely that working age will be someone less than 62 years old. If you are in a couple and one of you is of working age and one is not, you wont be affected.

Examples of families who will be affected include:

  • A single person or couple living in a 2, 3 or 4 bedroom home
  • A single person or a couple with one child, living in a 3 or 4 bedroom home
  • A single person or a couple with two children of the same gender aged 15 and under, living in a 3 or 4 bedroom home
  • A single person or couple with two children aged  9 and under of a different gender living in a 3 or 4 bedroom home
  • A couple who have weekend access to a child in a 2 bedroom home

The size criteria for social housing will restrict housing benefit to allow for one bedroom for each person or couple living as part of the household, with the following exceptions:

  • One bedroom for each adult or couple as part of the household. This means that a couple is expected to need one bedroom and two adults who are not a couple to need two bedrooms
  • A child of 15 and under is expected to share with another child of the same gender while a child of 9 and under is expected to share with another child regardless of gender
  • A bedroom for a non-resident carer is allowed where they provide overnight care to a person with a disability
  • Separated parents who share care of the children
  • Couples who use their ‘spare’ bedroom when recovering from an illness or operation
  • Parents whose children visit but are not part of the household
  • Families with disabled children
  • Disabled people including people living in specially adapted properties

There are new exceptions if you are a foster carer or have children in the armed forces. Also, if your child is severely disabled they may be allowed a room of their own. This doesn’t mean families with disabled children are not affected by the bedroom tax, but if a child’s condition makes it unrealistic for them to share with another sibling they may be allowed a room of their own.

Proposals state if you are under occupying your housing benefit will be reduced.

If you would like to move to a smaller home you can bid for properties via HomeHunt.  Alternatively, you could sign up to our Mutual Exchange Service which will enable you to swap homes with other customers. The service allows you to advertise your property, as well as showing you what other properties are available to you.

Proposals indicate the cut is a percentage reduction of total eligible rent.

If you under-occupy your home by one bedroom you will lose 14% of your total eligible rent and 25% if you under occupy by two or more bedrooms.

For example, if you under occupy by 1 bedroom and your rent is £100, and you receive £50 housing benefit and pay £5014% will be deducted from the total eligible rent (£100). £14 will then be deducted from your housing benefit entitlement and you will be required to make up the shortfall.

If you are worried or unsure how these changes affect you, contact us or pop into your local housing office where staff will be on hand to offer advice and support.

Yes. Gentoo as a landlord decide on the size of your property (bedrooms) and the amount of rent charged. The rent is outlined in your tenancy agreement. For example, if Gentoo has classified your home as having 3 bedrooms, you have 3 bedrooms regardless of what size they are. The Housing Act 1985, makes reference to room size in relation to sleeping accommodation, but is for the purpose of overcrowding only. It is not a definition of bedroom for the purpose of Welfare Reform.

Taking in a lodger

If you have a spare bedroom you may want to increase your income by taking in a lodger. The below frequently asked questions explains your rights and responsibilities under your tenancy agreement and provides useful information to consider before taking in a lodger.

Here's a few things you may need to know when taking in a lodger:

A lodger is someone who rents a room in your home and shares your facilities. The lodger does not have exclusive possession of any part of the property. Family members are NOT considered to be lodgers.

A family member will be defined by your relationship and include:

  • Spouse/Civil Partner 
  • Parent 
  • Grandparent
  • Co Habitee 
  • Son or Daughter 
  • Grandchild 
  • Brother or Sister 
  • Uncle or Aunt
  • Nephew or Niece 
  • Father/Mother in law
  • Brother/Sister in law
  • Step parent
  • Step brother/sister

Should you allow another family member to stay in your home they will stay as a member of your household and you must ensure you are not overcrowding your property by doing so.

A lodger is not the same as a sub-let tenant, who have different rights. For example, a lodger does not have the right to put a lock on their bedroom door.

If a tenant wished to sub–let part of their property they would require written consent from Gentoo. For further information on sub-letting please speak to your Neighbourhood Coordinator.

If tenants decide to have a lodger they MUST inform Gentoo. Your Tenancy Agreement states that tenants have the right to take in lodgers. but, you MUST NOT create overcrowding by doing so.

Did you know?

  • A lodger will not have any security of tenure.
  • You are responsible for the conduct of your lodger in accordance with your tenancy agreement (‘your responsibility for others’). 
  • The lodger will stay at your home as a member of the household.
  • Any income from taking in a lodger must be declared to the Local Authority, HMRC and the Department of Works and Pensions.

You must provide your lodger with a furnished room, and use of other communal areas such as the kitchen and bathroom. It is up to you to decide whether you wish to provide additional services (meals, laundry, cleaning) as part of your agreement with the lodger.

What you charge your lodger will depend on what facilities you are providing for them. To give yourself an idea you may wish to refer to websites such as www.spareroom.co.uk/ and look up what other people in your area charge for similar accommodation.

If you wish to evict your lodger you must provide them with a reasonable amount of notice.

You will be responsible for legally evicting your lodger if you want them to leave. This may mean that you need to take legal advice and you may have to take Court proceedings to legally evict them. When you take in a lodger it is advisable to write up a licence that you both sign and agree to the conditions of.

If the income from letting a room exceeds a certain amount known as a threshold, then you may also be liable to pay income tax. You are advised to obtain independent advice about the tax implications for you in doing so.

If you claim single occupants discount for Council Tax you may no longer be eligible for this if you take in a lodger. You are advised to obtain independent advice about the council tax implications.

If you have a home insurance policy, you must contact your provider to make sure you are still covered and inform your lodger if they require their own insurance.

If you take in a lodger you will need to inform your local benefits agency immediately. Taking in a lodger may affect the amount of benefit that you are entitled to. If you don't tell them, you may end up having to repay an overpayment or be prosecuted for fraud.

An extra person in the household may increase the amount you spend on things like gas, electricity and water so this is something you need to consider.

An extra person in the household may increase the amount you spend on things like gas, electricity and water so this is something you need to consider.

It is a good idea to do a background check on your lodger for your own safety and security as they will be sharing your home. For example, you may wish to get a reference from their previous landlord. You may also wish to carry out checks to see if they can afford their rent. The extent of the checks you carry out may differ from one person to the next, and it is for you to decide what may be appropriate.

No, the lodger can only continue to live at your property whilst you have a tenancy there.

Before Universal Credit - If you have a lodger after the bedroom tax comes into force on 1 April 2013 their bedroom will be classed as occupied. As long as all the bedrooms in your property are occupied on a permanent basis you will not be classed as under occupying your property and you will not be affected by the charge.

However, the rent you receive from the lodger may affect your benefit entitlements. Note: At present the first £20 a week of rent received from lodgers is disregarded when calculating housing benefit entitlement.

From October 2013 tenants will be able to keep income from lodgers and retain full entitlement to benefit. The room let to a lodger will, however, be classed as a spare room and fall under the under occupation or bedroom tax as described above. However, the rent you receive from the lodger will help you pay the charge and any excess rent you receive over and above the charge will not reduce your benefit entitlement.