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Size Criteria for Social Sector Tenants

Claimants who live in social rented properties, including housing associations, charities and other non-profit making organisations may face a restriction on the size of property that they can occupy for housing benefit purposes.

A bedroom is allocated for each of the following:-

  • claimant and any partner
  • a person aged over 16 who is not the claimant or partner
  • two children of the same sex under 16 yrs of age
  • two children of different sex under 10 yrs of age
  • any other children (NB Foster children are not taken into account)
  • a carer providing overnight care

Rate of Reduction

  • 14% of the eligible rent (including any services) where 1 bedroom under-occupied
  • 25% of the eligible rent (including any services) where 2 or more bedrooms are under-occupied

Joint Tenants

Joint tenants are assessed in the same way as any other claimant, in that the total number of bedrooms for the property is compared against the total number of persons occupying the entire property. No account will be taken as to how the joint tenants actually divide the property.

Cases which are not subject to the new rules:

  • pension age claimants
  • shared-ownerships
  • mooring charges and site fees
  • temporary accommodation where the claimant has been placed by the Local Authority under its homeless responsibilities
  • supported Accommodation where the claimant received care, support and supervision provided by the landlord or someone acting on their behalf

What can I do to meet the shortfall?

  • move to a smaller property
  • take in a lodger or boarder - please note that any income received may effect your benefit entitlement
  • ask family members such as non-dependants to pay more
  • move into work or increase hours
  • apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment

You may wish to contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau for further information and assistance regarding managing your financial affairs.

Example 1:

A couple living in a three bedroom property with two children aged one and three -


Rent is £60.00 plus service charges of £20.00 (£80.00 in total). £5.00 of the service charge is ineligible so total eligible rent is £75.00.

Applying the size criteria means that the household is deemed to be under-occupying by one bedroom. A 14% reduction of £10.50 is applied to the eligible rent of £75.00 resulting in housing benefit entitlement of £64.50.

Example 2:

A four bedroom house is occupied by a couple, and two girls under 10 and a son aged 18 who is employed. Rent is £150.00 plus service charges of £50.00 (£200.00 in total).

£20.00 of the service charges is ineligible so total eligible rent is £180.00.

A 14% reduction is applied because they are considered to be under-occupying by one bedroom under the size criteria rules.

The eligible rent of £180.00 is reduced by 14% to £154.80. A non-dependent deduction of £11.45 is applied in respect of the son after the percentage reduction is applied. Housing benefit is £154.80 minus £11.45 is £143.35

Example 3:

Three adults jointly responsible for rent live in a four bedroom property The total eligible rent is £100.00 Applying the size criteria means that the household is deemed to be under-occupying by one bedroom.

A 14% under-occupancy reduction is made from the eligible rent of £100.00 (£100.00 minus £14.00) and then the remaining figure of £86.00 is apportioned three ways resulting in housing benefit entitlement for each tenant of £28.67.

For further information please contact Revenues on 01789 260991 or by email at benefits.sdc@stratford-dc.gov.uk or by fax on 01789 260969.

Last updated on 07/06/2017

Contact the Revenues & Benefits team