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Housing Benefit and underoccupation

If you are of working age, the rent that can be covered by Housing Benefit is based on the number of bedrooms and people in your home.  If your home has more bedrooms than the rules say you need, the maximum Housing Benefit you can receive is reduced by:

  • 14% of the rent if you have one more bedroom than you need
  • 25% of the rent if you have two or more extra bedrooms

This is often referred to as the "bedroom tax".  This means that if your rent is £100 a week, the most Housing Benefit you can receive is £86 a week if you have one extra bedroom, or £75 a week if you have more than one extra bedroom. 

Housing Benefit will pay for one bedroom per adult or couple.  Two children under 10, or under 16 and the same sex, are expected to share a room.  No allowance is made for children whose main residence is not with you.  If you need overnight care you may be able to claim for another bedroom for this.  If you are a foster carer or have children in the Armed Forces, you may also be able to claim for another bedroom.  You can find out how much you can claim here.

Moving to a smaller home

You may qualify for an incentive payment and additional waiting list priority if you are looking to move to a smaller home - see our Transfer incentive scheme and Apply for a mutual exchange pages for more details.

Paying your rent

If Housing Benefit does not cover your whole rent you will need to pay the difference yourself.  See our Ways to pay page for more details. In some circumstances you may be able to claim for a Discretionary Housing Payment to cover some or all of the shortfall.

If you are considering taking in a lodger to help you pay your rent, please read this pdf icon leaflet [1Mb].


Colchester Borough Council have produced a new video on underoccupation, please click on this Under Occupancy YouTube Video to view

For further advice please see Colchester Borough Council Under Occupancy Charge