Unless you are old enough to receive a state pension you might have found that the Housing Benefit that you were receiving has reduced. Since April 2013 anyone with one spare bedroom may have had their Housing benefit payment reduced by an amount equal to 14% of their rent. Anyone with two or more spare bedrooms may have had their benefit reduced by an amount equal to 25% of their rent.
Under the new regulations an adult couple would be required to share one bedroom, as would two children under the age of 16 of the same sex or two children under the age of 10 regardless of sex.
It may be that you can challenge the reduction in your Housing Benefit. Possible challenges to the reduction include:
- If you require an overnight carer you may be able to claim a bedroom for the carer even if they don’t live with you full time
- If you have a child with a disability they may be entitled to their own bedroom regardless of their age
- If you or your partner are disabled and cannot share a bed because of that disability you may be entitled to claim for an additional bedroom
- If you have a bedroom under 70 square foot it may be too small to be considered a bedroom
- If the spare bedroom is used to store equipment required for a disability it may be disregarded as a bedroom
- If you have a disabled child in residential care who sometimes stays at the property you may be able to claim for an additional bedroom for them
- If the room has historically been used as something other than a bedroom it may be disregarded as a bedroom
- If you have been continuously claiming housing benefit for the same property since before 1996 without a break or more than 4 weeks you may be exempt from the bedroom tax. Any appeals in relation to this must be made by May 2014
You may also be entitled to claim Discretionary Housing Benefit for short term assistance in meeting the shortfall in your Housing benefit.
Many people are finding themselves in financial difficulty and facing possession proceedings as a result of rent arrears due to the bedroom tax. Stephensons Solicitors have a dedicated Housing Department who can provide advice to people who are facing possession proceedings. We can also advise and assist in relation to possible challenges to bedroom tax deductions.
By Amy Tagoe, housing law solicitor