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The number of bedrooms allowed under Housing Benefit rules depends on the age and sex of your children, whether any other adults live with you and whether you qualify an extra room because you have special circumstances which mean you are exempt.

The basic rules are that one bedroom is allowed for each of the following people:

  • Two children of either gender under the age of 10
  • Two children of the same gender under the age of 16
  • One child over the age of 16
  • A single adult
  • A couple

Exemptions

The number of bedrooms a household needs can be increased in certain circumstances. The rules in this area are complicated and you may need to take advice on your individual situation.

Special rules affect the following groups:

  • Disabled adults who need overnight care
  • Households with disabled children who cannot share a bedroom because of their disability
  • Households with adult children in the armed forces who are away from home
  • Foster carers

The rules in relation to people who need overnight care specify that you must have a non-resident carer to qualify and you must already have an extra bedroom in your home available for your carer.

If you have a severely disabled child in your household who is unable to share a room because of their disability, they are always entitled to their own room in the bedroom calculation.

On 12th March 2013 the government announced new rules for people with adult children in the armed forces and for foster carers.

Approved foster carers are entitled to an extra bedroom between placements if they have fostered a child, or become a foster parent within the last 12 months.

Households with adult children in the armed services will be treated as if those children are living at home, even if they are deployed on operations. Their bedroom allowance will be worked out as if they were living at home in the normal way.

If you qualify under any of these exemptions please say 'yes' to the question on the calculator about exemptions and we will calculate your bedroom allowance on the basis that you are entitled to an extra bedroom.

Who does the bedroom entitlement calculation affect?

The rules affect most people of working age who live in private rented accommodation or, from 1st April 2013, in social housing accommodation such as a council house or housing association property.

The rules do not affect:

  • Pensioners
  • People who live in supported exempt accommodation
  • People who live in certain types of accommodation, such as houseboats or caravans
  • People who have been temporarily housed by their council
  • People who rent their property under a shared ownership scheme

If you live in social housing and are affected by the introduction of the new rules you can get more information from our Questions and Answers on under occupation.

People temporarily protected from the under occupation rules

There are two protected groups, where your full rent will be met for a period even if you are under occupying your home. At the end of the protection period, you will have your Housing Benefit restricted if you are still under occupying.

  • Protected group 1. If you did not receive Housing Benefit in the year leading up to making a claim then your full rent will be used for the first 13 weeks of your current claim, though your local authority can still restrict the rent if they believe that you could not afford it when you first moved in or that it is 'unreasonable'.
  • Protected group 2. If a member of your household has died then your full rent will be used for the next year. If you were already claiming prior to the death then your Housing Benefit will not be restricted for the next year. For these purposes household includes relatives you live with not just immediate family.