The bedroom tax

The bedroom tax is a cut in housing benefit if you live in a council or housing association home and are classed as having a spare bedroom. It is sometimes known as an ‘under-occupancy charge’.

If your housing benefit is cut as a result of the bedroom tax, you will have to pay your landlord the difference between the housing benefit and the rent.

If you are struggling to pay your rent as a result of the bedroom tax, you could apply to your local council for a discretionary housing payment (DHP). To find your local council and how to claim a DHP in your area, enter your postcode in the box below and click the find button.

Who is affected by the bedroom tax?

You may get less housing benefit if :

  • you have a spare bedroom
  • you live in a council or housing association property, and
  • you are of working age.

The bedroom tax will NOT apply to you if:

  • you live in private housing (housing benefit is worked out using different rules)
  • you live in temporary or supported accommodation (it does apply to some council facilities), or
  • you or your partner are of state pension age.

How much will my housing benefit be reduced by?

If you have more bedrooms than the ‘bedroom tax’ rules say you need, your ‘eligible rent’ will be reduced:

  • 14% will be taken off if you have one extra bedroom
  • 25% will be taken off if you have two extra bedrooms.

So, if you have one ‘spare bedroom’ and your rent is £100 per week, only £86 will count when your housing benefit is assessed. You will have to pay at least £14 to your landlord yourself.

Similarly, if you have two or more ‘spare bedrooms’, and your rent is £100 per week, only £75 will count when your housing benefit is assessed. You will have to pay at least £25 to your landlord yourself.

You may have to pay more – this will depend on your circumstances, income, savings and contributions from adults who live with you.

How many bedrooms can you claim housing benefit for?

You can claim housing benefit for 1 bedroom for each:

  • adult couple
  • person aged 16 or over
  • disabled child who can’t share a bedroom because of their disability
  • 2 children aged under 16 of the same sex
  • 2 children aged under 10 (boys and girls are expected to share a room)
  • child away at university who plans to return home (second or third year students living in privately rented accommodation may not count)
  • child in the Armed Forces who plans to return home.

Extra bedroom for an overnight carer

You can get housing benefit for 1 extra bedroom if you’re disabled and regularly have an overnight carer (or team of carers).

You must get one of the following benefits:

  • middle or higher rate Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
  • Attendance Allowance (AA)
  • daily living component of Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

Extra bedroom for an overnight carer for your child

You can get housing benefit for 1 extra bedroom if you have a disabled child who regularly has an overnight carer (or team of carers) (this applies from 1st April 2017).

Your child must be receiving one of the following benefits:

  • middle or higher rate care component of DLA
  • AA
  • the daily living component of PIP
  •  the Armed Forces Independence Payment (AFIP).

Extra bedroom for disabled partner

You can get housing benefit for 1 extra bedroom if you cannot reasonably share a bedroom with your partner as a result of their disability (this applies from 1st April 2017).

You or your partner must be receiving one of the following benefits:

  • middle or higher rate care component of DLA
  • higher rate AA
  • the daily living component of PIP
  • AFIP.

Extra bedroom if you are a foster carer

You can also claim housing benefit for 1 extra bedroom if:

  • you have a foster child placed with you
  • you’re a foster carer who’s been approved by social services and is waiting for a placement.

Sanctuary (or ‘panic’) rooms

You can’t claim housing benefit for a spare room that you use as a ‘panic room’ to protect you from domestic abuse. If this applies to you, you should claim a discretionary housing payment to help you meet any shortfall in your rent.

Any other bedrooms in your home are counted as spare and the bedroom tax will apply to them.

Can I challenge a bedroom tax decision?

If you don’t agree with the number of rooms the council says you need or you think that the ‘bedroom tax’ has wrongly been applied to you then you can ask the council to reconsider that decision. You must do this within 1 month of receiving the decision. You should do this in writing and you should make sure you clearly explain why you think you should be entitled to an extra bedroom. You may also be able to ask for a statement of their reasons for that decision and appeal the decision.

Use our Bedroom Tax Appeal Toolkit to help you and see our pages on Challenging a Housing Benefit decision for more advice.

Worried about paying your rent after the bedroom tax?

If you are affected by the bedroom tax, you may be worried about how you will manage with less money. Your first priority should always be to pay the rent – if you fall into arrears, you could lose your home.

  • Use an online budget planner to see where your money is going, and find out if there is a way you can reduce your costs
  • You might be able to save some money by getting help with heating costs
  • Have a look at these ideas to increase your income
  • You may be able to claim a discretionary housing payment from the council to make up any shortfall of housing benefit
  • Would you be able to take in a lodger? Renting out a spare room to a lodger would mean the room would not be treated as a ‘spare’ room. It would also bring in extra income. Make sure you get the agreement of your landlord first and look at our advice pages on lodgers before agreeing to anything.

Could you move to another home or area?

If you still cannot afford the rent, you might need to consider moving to a smaller home through a tenancy transfer or mutual exchange. Some families are overcrowded in their homes, so you may be able to find someone willing to swap homes with you.

You can also ask your council about the possibility of moving to a smaller home. However, there may not be enough spare council or housing association properties of the right size in your area to allow you to move locally.

You may wish to consider moving away from your local area. Ask your local council about moving to homes in other areas.

Get advice as soon as possible if you’re worried that you might have to move.

Phone an adviser

If you have a housing problem, call our expert housing advice helpline
0345 075 5005

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If you have a non-urgent problem and would like to speak to an advisor
email us

We are sorry that we cannot provide this information in Welsh, however if you would like to speak to an adviser in Welsh please contact 0345 075 5005.

This page was last updated on: December 7, 2018

Shelter Cymru acknowledges the support of Shelter in allowing us to adapt their content. The information contained on this site is updated and maintained by Shelter Cymru and only gives general guidance on the law in Wales. It should not be regarded or relied upon as a complete or authoritative statement of the law.