Under Occupancy

Useful Information

From April 2013, reduced Housing Benefit has been paid to working age tenants who have spare bedrooms in their home. This new rule will apply to all tenants in Housing Association properties and Council tenants.

If you have a spare bedroom, the eligible rent used to calculate your claim will be reduced by 14%.  If you have two spare bedrooms this reduction is 25%.

Use the Room Calculator to find out how you will be affected. 

Who is affected?

One bedroom will be allocated for each of the following:

  • a couple
  • a person who is not a child (aged 16 and over)
  • two children of the same sex
  • two children who are under 10
  • any other child, (other than a child whose main home is elsewhere)

A recent Upper Benefit Tribunal decision has confirmed that in relation to the Under Occupancy rules, there is no minimum size for a bedroom.

Use the on-line calculator to find out how you will be affected.

What do you need to tell us?

  • If you are disabled and the property has been significantly adapted for your needs let us know. 
  • If you have disabled children who are unable to share a bedroom let us know.
  • If you have a non-resident carer who stays overnight, you may be allowed an additional room. 

If any of these provisions apply please contact us by e-mail on benefits@staffordbc.gov.uk or call us on 01785 619478.

What do you need to do next

Check with your Landlord that they have told us the number of Bedrooms in your property.

If you are likely to be affected by these changes, contact the Citizens Advice Bureau who will be able to provide help on budgeting and talk through some of the other options with you.

Interested in renting out a spare room?

If you have a spare room or you are looking for accommodation and would like to find out more, use this link to the Direct Gov website that you may find useful. For more information on please look at Under Occupancy (pdf 674Kb)

Exemptions to the Under Occupancy Rule

Due to a gap in Government legislation, a small number of tenants will not be affected by the Under Occupancy rules until 3 March 2014. For this delay to be applied a tenant must meet all of the following conditions:

  • Been continuously in receipt of housing benefit since at least
    1 January 1996
     
  • Been resident at the same dwelling since that date, except where there has been a fire, flood, explosion or natural catastrophe that rendered the property uninhabitable.

The exemption outlined above continues to apply if there has been a break and:

  • that break was for no more than 4 weeks
     
  • or no more than 52 weeks if the claimant or their partner is a welfare to work beneficiary.

We have already contacted those tenants that we believe fall into this exemption.  If you believe you were exempt and have not been contacted contact our Customer Services team on 01785 619478.

Contact
Tel: 01785 619478
Fax: 01785 619219
Email: benefits@staffordbc.gov.uk
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