When will the change start?
The regulations take effect from 1 April 2013.
What does under-occupying mean?
If someone is assessed as having more bedrooms in their accommodation than is necessary according to the new rules, they will be considered to be under-occupying that property.
Who is affected?
The size limit measure will affect anyone who is of working age and is receiving housing benefit or has made a claim for housing benefit.
What does working age mean?
Anyone under state pension age. Elderly residents receiving state pension credit will not be included or have their rent restricted even if they are in a property bigger than what they need.
Are you allowed a room for a foster child?
No, when calculating how many bedrooms a family unit require, a room for a foster child will not be taken into account. A household that has an extra room for a current or potential foster child will be treated as under occupying. If assessed as under-occupying as a foster carer your local authority will contact you as you maybe eligible for help with the shortfall in your rent in the form of a discretionary housing payment. This is administered by the housing benefit service, not the fostering service.
I share the house with someone else, how is my room allowance worked out?
If you occupy your accommodation jointly with someone else the size limit rules will take into account everyone living in the property. If it is decided that you are under-occupying, a percentage reduction will be taken off the whole eligible rent and your housing benefit will then be based on the proportion of the rent you are liable to pay.
My house has been adapted to cater for my disability, am I included in the size limit rules?
Other than the cases stated above there will be no exceptions to the application of the under-occupation rules. If there is a reason that an extra room is necessary you may be eligible for a discretionary housing payment through your local authority. This is administered by the housing benefit service.
My child is away at university, can I keep their room for when they are home in the holidays?
The new size limit rules do not allow for this, unless the absence is temporary (less than 13 weeks or 52 weeks for students) and the young person concerned intends to return home.
My partner has just passed away, am I going to be expected to move as well?
If you are considered as being under occupied because of a death in the household, you would be protected and the size limit rules would not be applied for the first 12 months unless you moved or had another change in your circumstances.
I have just lost my job and need to claim housing benefit. Does this mean I won’t get benefit to cover all my rent because I have an extra room?
If you could previously afford to pay your rent and find yourself in a situation where you are unable to do so the size limit rules will not be applied for the first 13 weeks as long as you had not claimed housing benefit in the previous 52 weeks. This will be applied earlier if you move home or have another change of circumstance.