Under government rules, if you have more bedrooms than they say you need, your home will be classed as too big for you. If this is the case, you may lose some or all of your housing benefit through the bedroom tax. Most landlords will not allow a swap if the home you're moving into is too big, according to these rules.
So what are the rules?
Your home will be too big for you if you have more than one bedroom for each of the people shown below:
- each adult couple
- each other person over 16
- two children of the same sex under 16
- two children under 10, regardless of their sex
- any other child
- an overnight carer you need but who doesn’t normally live with you.
It doesn’t matter if you think you need your spare bedroom. For example, you may think you need your spare bedroom because you and your partner need to sleep apart because of a medical condition or your children have moved out but you keep a spare room for when they come and stay. The rules still apply.
There is a useful calculator on the government website.
Changes to the rules – children with disabilities who need overnight care
However, on 27th January 2016 the Court of Appeal accepted that the bedroom tax unlawfully discriminates against disabled children requiring overnight care, as it does not allow for an additional bedroom for their overnight carer. The decision will also apply to those who require an additional bedroom for an overnight carer for an adult in the house which is not either the claimant or the claimants partner – i.e. an adult child or other relative of the claimant.
In the case a couple were caring for their severely disabled grandson, who also needed carers to stay overnight as he required 24 hour care.
The rules for the bedroom tax allow an extra bedroom where the claimant or their partner has a need for overnight care, and so have carers who need use of a bedroom. However this rule does not apply to children who need overnight carers.
The Court of Appeal has decided that this amounts to unlawful discrimination.
If you are subject to the bedroom tax but think you should not be because of this decision, then if you have not done so already you should appeal against the decision to restrict your housing benefit, or ask for it to be reviewed. You can find more information about this change on the Carers UK website.