How spare bedrooms affect your benefit
Housing Benefit payments and Local Housing Allowance rates are affected by the number of bedrooms you have.
If you rent from a housing association (Registered Social Landlord)
If your household has more bedrooms than the law says you need, these are classed as 'spare bedrooms', even if people use them.
Your Housing Benefit will be reduced by:
- 14% of your rent if you have one spare bedroom
- 25% of your rent if you have more than one spare room
If you rent privately
If you rent privately, in most cases, your housing benefit will be worked out using the Local Housing Allowance rates.
Under Local Housing Allowance rules, the maximum benefit you can get depends on the number of bedrooms needed by you and people in your home.
You can use the Local Housing Allowance bedroom calculator to work out the LHA rate that applies to your household.
Who does Local Housing Allowance apply to?
Local Housing Allowance usually applies if you rent from a private landlord or letting agent and have made a new Housing Benefit claim since April 2008.
But if you have meals included in your rent or if you rent a caravan, mobile home or houseboat your Housing Benefit payments will be decided on an individual basis by a rent officer from the Valuation Office Agency (VOA).
How does Local Housing Allowance work?
Local Housing Allowance uses a set of rules for working out the maximum amount of Housing Benefit you can receive. These are known as the Local Housing Allowance rates and are set by the VOA rather than the council.
The rates determine the maximum amount of Housing Benefit that can be paid based on the number of bedrooms your household needs and on where you live. They change in April each year and are based on the value of the rental market in a particular area. They can go down as well as up.
What rate will I get?
How is Local Housing Allowance paid?
Local Housing Allowance will normally be paid to you and it is your responsibility to pay your landlord.
Only in limited circumstances will payment be made to your landlord including:
- if you are in arrears with your rent by 8 weeks or more
- if it is considered that you are 'unlikely to pay' your rent
- if you have difficulty managing your money
- your rent is set at an affordable level (usually the level of your local housing allowance rate), and payments to your landlord will help you to secure or keep a tenancy
If you need further help or advice contact us.