Housing Benefit for council and housing association tenants

If you cannot find the answer to your question in these pages, please email us at housing.benefits@dacorum.gov.uk.

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Social Sector Size Criteria explained

  • I am/my partner is over state pension credit age, will the size limit still apply?

    No. If you are receiving Housing Benefit and either you or your partner is over state pension credit age, the size limit will not apply to you. 

  • How many bedrooms can I have?

    You can have one bedroom for:

    • Each adult couple
    • Any other person aged 16 or over
    • A child under the age of 16 who has a severe disability which means that if they shared with another child, there would be a significant impact on the other child’s sleep
    • Two children of the same sex under the age of 16
    • Two children under the age of 10, whatever their sex
    • Any other child
    • A carer (who does not normally live with you) if you or your partner need overnight care.

    If you have a bedroom which is being used in any other way, it will be considered a ‘spare’ room.

  • What happens if I have a ‘spare’ room?

    The Social Sector Size Criteria (you may have heard it called ‘bedroom tax’ or ‘removal of spare room subsidy’) means that the amount of Housing Benefit you get is based on the number of bedrooms that the Department for Work and Pensions says you need for your household.

    • If you have one or more bedrooms than you need, your Housing Benefit entitlement will be reduced by 14 per cent of your rent.
    • If you have two or more extra bedrooms, your Housing Benefit entitlement will be reduced by 25 per cent of your rent.

    If your Housing Benefit does not cover your full rent, you will have to pay the difference to your landlord.

  • Does it affect me?

    The Social Sector Size Criteria only affects you if you and your partner are not over state pension credit age, you live in a council or housing association home and you receive Housing Benefit.

    If you are a tenant renting in the private sector, your Housing Benefit will be worked out using the Local Housing Allowance.
  • What is classed as a bedroom?

    When you moved into your home, you will have signed a tenancy agreement. Your tenancy agreement defines how many bedrooms your home has. This is the information the Housing Benefit service used to decide whether you have a spare bedroom.

    Under the new Welfare Reform regulations established for Universal Credit and Housing Benefit, the criteria used to decide whether or not you have a spare bedroom depends on the number of bedrooms in a property, not the size of the bedroom.

    If you have a bedroom that the government considers you do not need, regardless of its size, it will be considered as a ‘spare room’ and your Housing Benefit entitlement will be reduced. 

  • I share the care of my children with my ex-partner. Are we both entitled to a room for them?

    No. You will only be entitled to a room for your children if they normally live with you and you provide their main home. If your child/children spend an equal amount of time living in different households, they will be treated as living with the person who is receiving Child Benefit for them.

    If you do not provide their main home, you will not be entitled to receive Housing Benefit for an extra room for your child/children and you will need to pay the difference between your rent and your Housing Benefit yourself. 

  • Someone in my household is disabled and can’t share a room. Can I have a room for them?

    Not usually. You can have one bedroom for:

    • Each adult couple
    • Any other person aged 16 or over
    • A child under the age of 16 who has a severe disability - which means that if they shared with another child there would be a significant impact on the other child’s sleep
    • Two children of the same sex under the age of 16
    • Two children under the age of 10, whatever their sex
    • Any other child
    • A carer (who does not normally live with you) if you or your partner need overnight care.

    If you have a bedroom that is being used in any other way, it will be considered a ‘spare’ room.

  • I am a foster carer, but I’m waiting for a child to be placed with me. Will the room I keep ready for them be treated as a ‘spare’ room?

    No. As long as you are an approved foster carer, you will be allowed one spare bedroom for up to 52 consecutive weeks between foster placements. If you are a newly approved foster carer, and you have not yet had a child placed with you, you will be allowed one spare bedroom for up to 52 weeks from the date of the approval.

    You must provide proof of your approval to the Housing Benefit service.

    If you are going through the approval process, the room will be considered a ‘spare’ bedroom until you are approved. 

  • I have a spare room. Can I have a lodger?

    Check your tenancy agreement. Most agreements allow you to take in a lodger, but you will usually need to ask for permission from your landlord first. If you are unsure, contact your Housing Tenancy Officer.

    Taking in a lodger may reduce the amount of Housing Benefit, Jobseekers' Allowance, Income Support or Employment and Support Allowance that you are entitled to. The reduction in benefit is likely to be less than the additional rent you will receive by taking in a lodger.

  • Can I move to a smaller home?

    If you currently live in a council or housing association home, you can apply to move to a smaller home using the Moving with Dacorum website. Because you are considered to have a ‘spare’ bedroom, you will receive extra priority or points to help you move.

    We only have a limited number of homes that become empty every year (around 500 general needs properties) and very high demand for them. Unfortunately, we can’t guarantee that you will move quickly if you have a ‘spare’ bedroom.

    You can also swap your home with another local authority or housing association tenant. This is known as a mutual exchange. For more information and to apply, go to our mutual exchange page

    There are some restrictions on the size of the property you can exchange into and conditions around rent arrears, anti-social behaviour and alterations which may restrict your ability to move. 

  • I can’t pay my rent, will I be evicted?

    If you live in a council home and you are struggling to pay your rent, please contact your Housing Rent Officer straight away. They will help you to restructure your rent payments and give you advice about where you can find extra help.

    If you live in a housing association home, please contact your landlord early on.

    If you do not pay your rent, we will have to go to Court and ask a judge for possession of your home. This is a very last resort. If you keep us informed of problems and let us work with you, it is very unlikely that we would seek possession of your home.

    If you are struggling to pay your rent, you may be able to claim a discretionary housing payment to help. Go to our discretionary housing payment page for more information. 

Warning signWe will be collecting bins from roads where it is safe to do so. Please leave your bins out for collection. If your bins have not yet been collected, leave them on the boundary of your property and we will collect them as soon as conditions allow. ×