Our Twitter Feed

Our Other Sites Visit Endeavour Housing Association website Visit North Star Housing Group website

Under Occupation

If you have at least one spare room, read on!

From April 2013 for working age households, Housing Benefit will be reduced to only allow payments for one bedroom for each person or couple. If you have a spare bedroom you will be regarded as “under occupying” the property and Housing Benefit will no longer pay for the additional room. This means that you will be responsible for paying the shortfall from your own income.

Hover over the questions below to learn more…

Q. Who will be affected?

A. The new rules will only apply to people of working age.

The rules will allow:

  • One bedroom for each adult or couple living in the household. This means a couple is expected to have one bedroom and two adults who are not a couple will need two bedrooms.
  • A child under the age of 16 is expected to share with another child of the same sex. Children under the age of 10 are expected to share with another child regardless of their sex.
  • A carer (who does not normally live with you) if you or your partner needs overnight care.

There will be NO exceptions for the following:

  • Separated parents who share the care of their children.
  • Foster children.
  • Families with disabled children.
  • Children who use the “spare” room when recovering from illness.
  • Disabled people including people living in adapted or specially designed properties.

What does this mean?

If your home is under occupied, your Housing Benefit will be reduced and you will have to pay the difference.

How much will I have to pay?

The Government has said that there will be 14% reduction in your Housing Benefit for one bedroom and a 25% cut for two or more bedrooms. This means that if your weekly rent is £80 per week and you have one spare bedroom you will have to pay £11.20 to make up the shortfall. If you have two spare bedrooms, you will have to pay £20 per week.

Q. I am in a two bedroom property but the second bedroom is only a box room. Will this count?

A. Yes, the Government has said that every room will count.

Q. I am of pension age, will these benefit changes affect me?

A. You will not be affected if you and your partner receive pension credits. In April 2013 the pension credit age will be around 61 years and six months.

Q. I need an extra room because I have a carer who stays overnight. Will I be affected?

A. When you have an overnight carer, you will not be affected.

Q. How much benefit will I lose?

A. You will lose 14% Housing Benefit of your overall rent amount for one bedroom and 25% for two or more bedrooms. If you do not receive full Housing Benefit you may lose all of your Housing Benefit. For example for a household who are under occupying by one room:

Rent Per Week  Housing Benefit Reduction
£70 £9.80
£80 £11.20
£90 £12.60

It is your responsibility to make up this shortfall on your rent account.

Q. What happens if I can’t pay and go into rent arrears?

A. The rent we charge and collect is used to pay for tenants services and we take rent arrears very seriously. If you are in rent arrears, you must contact your Housing Officer immediately who will be able to provide you with help and advice.

Q. Do I have to move?

A. No, you do not have to move. There are a number of options to help you stay in your current home or move to a smaller home. Your Housing Officer will be able to provide you with further details.

Q. I’m worried about this – what are my options?

A.You could:

  • Pay the shortfall from your income.
  • Go into employment or increase your hours.
  • Take in a lodger or another family member (this may affect your Housing Benefit and you will need to seek advice on the impact of this as well as speaking to your Housing Officer if you need permission first). If you are considering this option click here for more information.
  • Join the Durham Key Options scheme to find a smaller property.
  • Find another tenant to swap houses with (mutual exchange). You will need to discuss this first with your Housing Officer.
  • Rent from the private rented sector.

Q. Will you pay my moving costs?

A. We are currently looking at this. Your Housing Officer will be able to provide you with more details.

Q. How soon can I move?

A. You need to register with Durham Key Options. This will depend on the area and size of property you want to move into. Unfortunately there are a lot of people in the same situation and trying to move. You are responsible for paying your rent until you find another property.

Q. Where can I go for further advice and information?

A. Contact your Housing Officer who will be able to give you further advice and information.