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Under occupation rules: how many bedrooms are you allowed?

The number of bedrooms allowed under Housing Benefit and the Housing Costs element of Universal Credit depends on your age, the age and sex of your children, whether any other adults live with you, whether you qualify for an extra room because you have special circumstances and whether you are a private or social tenant. Under-occupation does not affect private tenants as Local Housing Allowance dictates the maximum rent they can receive help with.

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

  • A couple
  • A single adult
  • A child over the age of 16
  • 2 children of the same sex under the age of 16
  • 2 children of either sex under the age of 10

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.

For full details on bedroom entitlement if you have a non-dependant, boarder, lodger or sub-tenant living with you please see our Bedroom entitlement help page.

Extra rooms

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

You may qualify for an extra bedroom if your household includes:

  • A disabled adult, child or non-dependant who needs overnight care from a non-resident carer or group of carers
  • An adult couple who are unable to share a room because of a disability 
  • A disabled child who would be expected to share a bedroom but cannot share because of a disability
  • A foster carer

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 adult or child in your household who is unable to share a room because of their disability, they are entitled to their own room in the bedroom calculation.

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

If you qualify for an extra room under one of these circumstances please say 'yes' to the question on the calculator about including an extra room in your entitlement and we will calculate your bedroom allowance on this basis.

Who is not affected by the bedroom entitlement calculation?

The bedroom entitlement rules do not apply to:

  • Pensioners living in social housing accomodation such as council or housing association properties
  • People living in social housing accommodation whose homes have been adapted under the sanctuary scheme for domestic abuse survivors
  • 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 you can get more information from our Questions and Answers on under occupation.

Social housing tenants temporarily protected from the bedroom entitlement calculation - under occupation rules

There are two protected groups of social housing tenants, where your full rent will be met by Housing Benefit 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 Housing Benefit prior to the death. For these purposes household includes relatives you live with not just immediate family.