Bedroom tax and housing benefits

If you are under State Pension age, there are rules about the number of bedrooms your home can have.

The rules apply if you receive either:

If you live in social housing and have more bedrooms than you can claim for, the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) will reduce your benefits. This is sometimes called the ‘bedroom tax’. The DWP calls it having an ‘extra bedroom’.

If someone in your house is exempt, they can have their own bedroom without affecting your benefits. This can include disabled children and carers that do not live with you.


Warning If you receive Severe Disability Premium

There are rules about who you can live with if you receive Severe Disability Premium.

Living with someone and Severe Disability Premium

If you want to take a lodger and carry on receiving Severe Disability Premium, you must:

  • have a formal, written rental agreement and
  • charge the same as renting a similar room in your area, also called a “market rate”

How many bedrooms you can claim for

For adults, you can usually claim for 1 bedroom for each of the following:

  • adult couple
  • any adult not in a couple
  • any other person aged 16 or over

For children, you can usually claim 1 bedroom for each of the following:

  • 2 children under 16 of the same sex
  • 2 children under 10 of any sex
  • any other child under 16

How many bedrooms you can claim benefits for (Shelter)

There are exemptions. These are people who are also allowed their own bedrooms. This can include disabled children.

If your child is over 18

The rules for adults apply to them unless they are an exemption.

Private renters have extra rules

If you are renting from a private landlord, there are extra rules:

  • you can only claim for up to 4 bedrooms, even if you meet the eligibility criteria for more
  • there's a limit on how much Housing Benefit you can get, called the Local Housing Allowance, set by your local authority

Search for Local Housing Allowance rates by postcode or local authority (GOV.UK)

Exemptions (people who are allowed their own bedroom)

There are other people who are allowed to have 1 bedroom of their own.

This includes disabled people who cannot share a room because of their condition. They must receive 1 of the following:

  • Personal Independence Payment (PIP) daily living component
  • Disability Living Allowance (DLA), middle or higher rate
  • Attendance Allowance, higher rate

If they stop receiving the benefit for any reason, they will stop being entitled to their own room. The DWP would reduce your housing benefit or Universal Credit.

If you need regular care overnight, you may be allowed 1 room for your carer if all the following apply:

  • you receive PIP, DLA or Attendance Allowance at the higher rate
  • your carer does not live with you, also called a non-resident carer or personal assistant

Check if you’re allowed an extra bedroom for Housing Benefit (Citizens Advice)

If you’re in a couple

If you’re in a couple, the rules are the usually same when both the following apply:

  • 1 of you is under State Pension age
  • and 1 of you is over State Pension age

If either of you were getting pension-age Housing Benefit or Pension Credit on 14 May 2019, you should not be affected by bedroom tax.

If you get Universal Credit or working-age Housing Benefit, you could be affected by bedroom tax.

Contact the Scope helpline if you’re not sure.

Disabled children

Your child may be entitled to their own bedroom depending on:

  • what kind of care your disabled child needs at night
  • how often your disabled child needs care at night
  • if your disabled child will disturb the sleep of other children if they share a room

If you have shared custody

If you have shared custody, only 1 parent can claim for the child’s bedroom.

The DWP or local authority will decide where the child’s main home is. They will look at where the child spends the most time. If this is unclear, they will decide the main home is with the parent who has Child Benefit.

If someone moves out

Find out:

Some people are allowed their own bedroom. Find out if anyone in your house has an exemption. Otherwise, find out if the person moving out means that you will have an ‘extra bedroom’.

If you have an extra bedroom, the ‘bedroom tax’ will apply to you. The DWP will reduce either your Housing Benefit or housing element of Universal Credit.

Bedroom tax rules

If you live in social housing, your Housing Benefit or Universal Credit will be less if you have 1 or more ‘extra bedrooms’:

  • 1 extra bedroom: 14% less
  • 2 or more extra bedrooms: 25% less

The tax does not increase if you have 3 or more extra bedrooms. It would still be 25% less.

For example, if your rent is £100 a week, your Housing Benefit will be:

  • £86 a week with 1 extra bedroom (£14 less than £100)
  • £75 a week with 2 or more extra bedrooms (£25 less than £100)

How to deal with the bedroom tax (Shelter England)


Who you contact depends on which benefit you are receiving:

  • For Housing Benefit: contact your local authority to ask them to reconsider
  • For Universal Credit: contact the DWP to start mandatory reconsideration by leaving a note in your journal or calling the Universal Credit phone number

For example, you might appeal because:

  • you need a room for a carer because you need regular, overnight care
  • you need your own room because your condition means that you cannot share a room

Appealing benefit decisions 

Mental health and benefits

The benefit process can be stressful. There are things you can do if it’s affecting your mental health. These can include:

  • accessing mental health support
  • talking to a mental health charity about how you are feeling
  • talking to other disabled people on our online community

Support if claiming benefits affects your mental health

If your mental health means you find it hard to work or do daily tasks, you could claim benefits. These will depend on the criteria, but can include depression or anxiety.

Benefits and mental health 

Discretionary Housing Payments

If your housing benefits are reduced, you can still apply to your local authority for a Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP). This could help you to pay the difference between your rent and Housing Benefit or Universal Credit.

Ask your local authority how to apply for a DHP.

Your local authority can decide to make a single payment or give you a regular monthly payment.

Discretionary Housing Payments

You apply for a DHP as well as appealing the decision about your benefits. They are different things.

Housing Benefit decisions appeals (Citizens Advice)

Appealing benefits decisions  

Taking a lodger

If you want to rent a room out, check the agreement with your landlord or housing association. Ask if you are not sure.

Get advice

Renting a room may not increase your income because of how it affects your benefits. Get advice.

Calculate your benefits (Turn2us)

Scope helpline

It depends on which benefits you receive:

  • Universal Credit: the money for the room does not count as income.
  • Housing Benefit: you would not have to pay the bedroom tax but some of the money counts as income (which can affect your other benefits).

Last reviewed by Scope on: 14/08/2023

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