Confused Young Man

Bedroom Tax: Might I Be Exempt?

You might be. There are lots of reasons an extra room is absolutely necessary for tenants. A good many appeals have been won that challenged how the Bedroom Tax has been applied

It’s always worth anyone renting from the council or a housing association checking the list of Bedroom Tax exemptions. Asking an advisor with Citizens Advice or employed by our landlord can be a good starting point. The local council housing office might also be able to point you in the right direction.

The Bedroom Tax is charged to benefit claimants if they have one or more spare bedrooms. (See more details here.) Normally, if a room is left empty it will count as a spare room after 13 weeks. Someone who has recently become unemployed and started a claim for Housing Benefit may not have the deduction applied for 13 weeks. If things change because of a death in your household, you will have a year before any cuts apply to you.

The following issues could be a started point for an appeal or a claim for extra help.

Foster children
Foster parents do not get a room allowed for a foster child. Foster parents can apply to the local council’s discretionary housing fund (more here) to cover the reduction in housing benefit. But there may not be enough money to help everyone.

Disabled people
If a home has been adapted for a disabled person and there is a spare bedroom used for equipment or other purposes it will NOT be exempt. You will have to apply to the discretionary fund (more here) run by your local council. However, the Court of Appeal found in favour of three cases challenging the Bedroom Tax, so quote Gorry, Burnip, and Trengrove to your local authority and see what they say, (background here). It may be possible to argue that a severely disabled child should not have to share a room with a sibling.

If a couple separate but continue to live in the same home, they will be counted as two separate adults – that will apply whether or not they were originally married or in a civil partnership. If they live in separate homes, the parent who is the primary carer will get the bedroom allocation. If the parents genuinely share the care of the children then the one who gets the child benefit will get the allocation. If they have more than one child and they each get child benefit for at least one child it is possible they may each get a bedroom allocation for those children.

Grown-up children
Once a child of the family reaches 16, he or she can have a room of their own. If they stay in education and normally live in the family home then their room will not be counted as spare. If they go away to study then their room will not be counted as spare for 52 weeks. But if the local council decides that the family home is not the student’s main residence, their room will be counted as spare. Once a child leaves education and looks for work, gets a job or claims jobseeker’s allowance then different rules apply. If they still live in the home an amount known as a non-dependant deduction will be taken off the Housing Benefit. That deduction is dependent on their income – details can seen here.

Shared ownership
Where a home is partly rented and partly being purchased the deduction will not apply.

People who will suffer hardship as a result of these changes can apply for a payment from the local council’s Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) which is run by local councils whose policies differ from place to place. More here from Turn2us