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My property is too big

Your home may be considered too big if you have extra bedrooms in your home which you do not need or use.

If you are a tenant of the council or a registered social housing provider, this means that you could be subject to the spare room subsidy.

About the spare room subsidy

You may be subject to the spare room subsidy (also known as 'the bedroom tax') if you are:

  • of working age
  • classed as having a spare bedroom in your home

If you are subject to the spare room subsidy, your Housing Benefit or Universal Credit payments may be reduced. People with 1 spare bedroom can lose 14% of their Housing Benefit entitlement. Those with 2 or more spare rooms can lose 25%.

The spare room subsidy and people of pension age

If you are of pension age, you will not be subject to the spare room subsidy if:

  • you do not have a partner who lives with you
  • your partner lives with you and is also of pension age

However, you might be affected by the spare room subsidy if you are of pension age but you live with a partner who is not, and you claim Universal Credit as a couple.

The number of bedrooms you can have in your home

Tenants of council or housing association homes are allowed to have 1 bedroom for:

  • an adult couple (married or unmarried)
  • each member of a couple if they cannot share because of a disability or medical condition
  • any adults over the age of 16
  • carers who provide overnight care

If there are children living in the home

If there are children living in the home, 1 bedroom is allowed for:

  • any 2 children of the same sex aged 16 or under
  • any 2 children aged 10 or under
  • any child (other than a foster child or child whose main home is elsewhere)
  • children who cannot share because of a disability or medical condition

Exemptions to the spare bedroom rule

Foster carers

If you are a foster carer who has been approved to take care of children, you are allowed to have 1 spare bedroom in your home if you are:

  • between placements, but only for up to 52 weeks from the end of your last placement
  • a newly approved foster carer, for up to 52 weeks from the date you were approved, if no child is placed with you during that time

Students and members of the armed forces

You might have a room in your home which is normally occupied by a person who is a student or member of the armed forces. In this case, the room will not count as spare if the person is away and intends to come back home.

If you have had a bereavement

If you have recently had a bereavement in your household, you may be allowed stay in a home that has extra bedrooms.

What you can do if your home is too big

If you are worried about your Housing Benefit being reduced, then moving into work or increasing your work hours can help to cover any reductions. There is more information about this on GOV.UK.

If you decide to move, you can apply to transfer to a smaller home. Further advice on this is available from the Wise Move Team.

If you are currently struggling to pay for the costs of your home, there is advice available to help you manage until you can move.

Page last updated: 15 June 2023

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