Under occupancy

Working age tenants who live in Housing Association properties, have to meet the first 14% of their rent without Housing Benefit if they have one empty bedroom, and 25% if they have two or more empty bedrooms. 

By using the Department for Work and Pensions' bedroom calculator you can check on how many bedrooms you will actually need.

There are exemptions:

  • Carers - If the Housing Benefit claimant or their partner needs regular and frequent overnight care which is provided by someone who doesn't normally live in the property, an extra room can be allowed for that carer (as long as there is a bedroom free for them to use in the property).
     
  • Children - Two children who would normally be expected to share a bedroom but cannot do so due to severe illness or disability can be allowed a bedroom each.
     
  • Forces - A bedroom can be allowed if the son/daughter/step son/stepdaughter of the Housing Benefit claimant (or their partner) normally lives in the property but is absent because they are 'on operations' with the reserve or regular armed forces. They have to intend to return to live in the property as their home and been treated as living in the property before going 'on operations'. Also for any period when they return home. Usually this will have meant a deduction from the benefit claimant's Housing Benefit will have been made to take account of them living there. This deduction will not be made whilst the adult child is 'away on operations' even though a bedroom will be allowed for them during their absence.
     
  • Foster carers - One extra bedroom can be allowed (regardless of how many children they foster) whether or not a child has been placed with them AND between placements as long as they have fostered a child, or become an approved foster carer in the last 12 months. This can be allowed in addition to any bedroom allowed for an overnight carer.

In these cases, the person claiming Housing Benefit should contact the section for further advice as further information or evidence may be needed before an extra bedroom can be allowed.

Struggling with the Under Occupancy rule?

This is UK Government legislation and we do not have any discretion about making these reductions from Housing Benefit. Tenants can ask for a Discretionary Housing Payment to help with the cost but there is a limited amount available in the fund and we will only be able to help those most in need.

In the first instance, we can provide free advice to affected people and this may involve referrals to other organisations for more detailed advice/support. Contact us on 01495 353398, email  benefits@blaenau-gwent.gov.uk or by completion of the enquiry form

Contact Information

Name of Team: Housing Benefits

Telephone : 01495 353398

Address: Civic Centre, Ebbw Vale

Email: benefits@blaenau-gwent.gov.uk