Changes to benefits - Under-Occupation Charge

Content owner : Last updated : 01/11/17

What is the change?

The under-occupation charge is also known as the Removal of the Spare Room Subsidy (RSRS) and the bedroom tax. This reduces the amount of housing benefit payable to tenants living in council or housing association properties who have spare bedrooms. It affects tenants aged between 16 and 64. The Government has decided how many bedrooms different types of household need and will only pay housing benefit based on this number.

How will it affect you?

If the Government considers you to have one spare bedroom then the amount you receive in housing benefit will be reduced by 14%. If you have 2 or more spare bedrooms your housing benefit will be reduced by 25%.

Example: If your rent is £70 per week and you are entitled to receive full housing benefit but have a spare bedroom, a deduction of £9.80 per week will be made, leaving you with a housing benefit entitlement of £60.20 per week. If you have 2 or more spare bedrooms the weekly deduction will be £17.50, leaving you with a housing benefit entitlement of £52.50 per week.

You may be affected by the charge if you make a new housing benefit or universal credit claim or if the members of your household change. If your housing benefit or universal credit payment is reduced due to the under-occupation charge you will be responsible for making up the shortfall in your rent.

What can you do?

If you are affected by the charge there are a number of options you can consider:

  • You can pay the shortfall - using other income, reducing expenditure or asking family members who live with you to contribute more
  • You can take in a lodger - this will increase your income but may affect your housing benefit
  • You can find work - the charge will only affect you if you claim housing benefit or universal credit
  • You can move to a smaller property - you can apply for a transfer or a mutual exchange through the Choose 'n' Move website
  • If you are looking to move to a smaller property, you can apply to Kirklees Council for a Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) - this could help to make up the shortfall in your rent whilst you take action to find a more permanent solution.

Who else can help?

The KNH Homefit Team can assist you with any concerns or questions you may have about downsizing whether this is through a transfer or via an exchange. You may also be entitled to some additional support and priority to move and the KNH Homefit Team can advise you further on this. If you wish to discuss the options available to you, they can be contacted on: 01484 416900 or email:

KNH has a dedicated team of officers who can provide you with advice on budgeting and managing debts. They can check that you are claiming the correct benefits and provide support in making an application for a Discretionary Housing Payment. Please contact the Money Advice Team.

KNH also has a Tenants into Work (TIW) team that can help you to find training or employment, put together a CV and provide advice on interview technique. More information on how they can help you find work is available : Help to find Work

Useful websites

  • KNH and Housing Association Tenants in Kirklees can register their home on the House Exchange website for free to try and find a suitable swap.
  • The Kirklees Choose n Move website provides more information about finding another property.
  • The Citizens Advice website provides some useful information, including a bedroom calculator and things to consider before you take in a lodger.
  • Information on the number of bedrooms you are entitled to is available at: GOV.UK
  • The Better Off Kirklees website allows you to check which benefits you are entitled to, search for a job and more.