Spare rooms and housing benefit

Number of bedrooms allowed

If you rent a council or housing association home and you have one or more ‘spare’ bedrooms your housing benefit may be reduced.

This could affect you:

  • if you are 16 to state pension age
  • even if you are sick or disabled
  • even if you only get a small amount of housing benefit, for example because you are working

You will not be affected if:

What counts as a spare bedroom?

If you have more bedrooms than the government says you need you will lose part of your housing benefit. The new rules state that you need one bedroom for:

  • each adult couple 
  • from 1 April 2017 housing benefit will allow an additional bedroom for couples who cannot share a bedroom due to disability
  • any other person aged 16 or over
  • two children of the same sex under the age of 16
  • two children under the age of 10 regardless of their sex
  • any other child
  • a carer who needs to be able to stay overnight but who doesn’t normally live with you

What happens if you have a ‘spare’ room?

If you have one ’spare’ bedroom your housing benefit will be cut by 14% of the ‘eligible rent’ that you pay each week.  If you have two or more spare bedrooms you will lose 25%.

Your ‘eligible rent’ is simply the amount you pay just to occupy your home – it does not include charges for heating, lighting, meals and water costs and some service charges. Any parts of your rent that you do not have to pay to continue living in your home will not be included as part of your eligible rent.

If your benefit is cut you will have to pay your landlord the difference between your housing benefit and the rent that your landlord charges.

The spare room rules will not apply to you if:

  • you or your partner qualify for state pension credit
  • you live in a houseboat, a caravan or a mobile home
  • you live in any form of temporary accommodation that we have placed you in because you were homeless
  • you live supported accommodation such as a house or a flat where you get extra help from support workers, or sheltered accommodation for older people
  • you live in a shared ownership home where you part rent/part buy

What you can do

Start looking for work of enough hours to entitle you to tax credits so that you can avoid the overall benefit cap.

If you are affected by the housing benefit cap because you have spare bedrooms, consider moving to a smaller home.  Contact the Housing Initiatives team on: (020) 8825 7686.

If you have spare bedrooms consider taking in a lodger.  You will need permission from the council to do this if you are a council tenant.