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Social Housing Under Occupancy Charge

Spare Bedrooms

To bring Housing Benefit for social tenants in line with private tenants (who have Local Housing Allowance), a size criteria was introduced in 2013

This means that if you have one or more spare bedrooms your Housing Benefit is reduced.

Please Note: These changes only apply to council or social housing tenants of working age.

Housing Benefit is cut by 14% of the total rent you pay every week if you have one spare bedroom. If you have two or more spare bedrooms, you lose 25%. If your benefit is cut you need to pay your landlord the difference between your Housing Benefit and your rent.

There are similar rules under Universal Credit where this charge is called the under occupancy deduction.

How this is worked out

For housing benefit the rules say you need one bedroom for each of the following:

  • An adult couple
  • A single adult aged 16 or over
  • Two children of the same sex under the age of 16
  • Two children, regardless of sex, under the age of 10
  • A child that would normally share but shared bedrooms are already taken, for example you have 3 children and 2 already share
  • A disabled child who is unable to share with a sibling because of their disability.
  • A carer, or one of a team of carers, who has a home elsewhere and uses a spare bedroom on a regular basis to care for the claimant or their partner overnight.
  • A foster child or children of an approved foster carer

Rooms used by students and members of the armed or reserve forces if they’re away and intend to return home are not counted as spare rooms.

The rules also allow one spare bedroom for approved foster carers who are between placements or awaiting their first placement but for up to 52 weeks only.

What are your options?

Moving to a smaller home

Although it might sound drastic, you could think about moving to a smaller property . It’s likely that some of your other bills, like heating costs, would go down too and mean you’re better off. We may be able to help you with your moving costs.

Maximise your income

  • Make sure you are claiming all the benefits you can, for example money to help with the costs of a disability.
  • Ask other adults who live with you to help pay the difference.
  • Try to find some paid work or see if you could increase your hours to increase your income.
  • Think about taking in a lodger. produces a step by step guide to taking in a lodger that has some helpful advice.

Discretionary Housing Payments

In some exceptional circumstances you may be able to claim a Discretionary Housing Payment .

These are used to provide further financial help with rent costs for Housing Benefit claimants who are suffering hardship because of unusual or difficult circumstances.

Each case will be considered on its own merits.

If you need help

If you are a council tenant you can contact your Housing Officer or Crawley Homes Money Advisors on 01293 438223 or 438931. You can also email us .

The Citizens Advice Bureau can give you independent advice. Call Citizens Advice Central and South Sussex (Crawley) on 0844 477 1171 or visit . They also have an under occupancy calculator.

01293 438000 click to email us
Town Hall
The Boulevard
West Sussex
RH10 1UZ
Open Mon - Fri 8:30am to 5pm

Contact Us

01293 438000

email: click to email us

Town Hall
The Boulevard
West Sussex
RH10 1UZ
Open Mon - Fri 8:30am to 5pm

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