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Under-occupation and housing benefit

Claimants who have more bedrooms than they need will have a percentage restriction applied to their eligible rent.

The number of bedrooms required for a person of working age will be calculated on the following basis with one bedroom available for each of the following:

  • a couple
  • an adult aged 16 and over
  • two children of the same sex
  • two children who are under 10
  • any other child (including a bedroom for one foster child)
  • a serving member of the armed forces
  • a non-resident carer who provides over night care but does not live with you (tenant must be in receipt of a relevant disability benefit).

If you have one bedroom more than you need, the amount of rent we use to work out your housing benefit award will be reduced by 14%.

If you have two or more bedrooms more than you need, the amount of rent we use to work out your housing benefit award will be reduced by 25%.

Private tenants will not be affected.

Social housing providers

Find out about your options if you are a Lewisham Council/Lewisham Homes or Phoenix Community Housing tenant.

If you are with another housing provider (a Registered Social Landlord) the Trading Places team can advise you.

Exemptions to the restrictions

There are a number of exemptions from the restriction. These include;

  • those who share ownership of their property with their landlord

  • claimants who are over the qualifying age for state pension credit

  • tenants living in temporary or supported accommodation

  • a child unable to share a bedroom because of severe disabilities (in receipt of either component of disability living allowance)

  • approved foster carers will be allowed an additional room so long as they have fostered a child, or become an approved foster carer in the last 12 months

  • adult children in the Armed Forces will be treated as continuing to live at home when deployed on operations

  • children studying away from home if it is less that 13 weeks or 52 weeks for students

  • if there is a death in the household you will be protected for he first 12 months unless your circumstances change

  • if you have lost your job and need to claim housing benefit you will be protected for 13 weeks as long as you have not claimed housing benefit in the last 52 weeks. 

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