Manchester City Council

Benefits & support The 'spare room' rules

You may have to pay more rent - the rules

From April 2013, your benefit was reduced if you live in a property that the government's rules say is bigger than you need. The rules say that each of the following needs one bedroom:

  • a couple
  • a person who is not a child (aged 16 or over)
  • two children under 10 of either sex
  • two children under 16 of the same sex
  • any other child 
  • a carer who provides you or your partner with regular overnight care but doesn't live with you
  • a carer who provides your joint tenant or their partner with regular overnight care but doesn't live with you 
  • a child with a severe disability who is unable to share a room. See how we decide if a severely disabled child is unable to share a room.

In addition the rules say:

  • If you or your partner have a foster child living with you, or you are an approved foster carer waiting for a placement, you are allowed one extra bedroom. It doesn't matter how many foster children you have.
  • If your joint tenant or their partner has a foster child living with them, or they are an approved foster carer waiting for a placement, you are allowed one extra bedroom, no matter how many foster children they have. 
  • An adult child (son, daughter, step-son or step-daughter of you or your partner) who normally lives with you, but is on operations in the armed forces, counts as needing a bedroom - as long as they intend to live with you again.

How will it affect me?

If you have one extra bedroom you only get benefit based on 86 per cent of the rent. You will have to make up the difference.

If you have two extra bedrooms, you will only get benefit based on 75 per cent of the rent. You will have to make up the difference.

If the new rules don't affect you now, your benefit could still be cut if someone moves out later. We would delay a cut if you need fewer bedrooms because someone has died.

Examples of how the 'spare room rules' work

This change does not affect you if:

  • you or your partner have reached 'pension age'. We treat you as pension age when you or your partner reach the qualifying age for state pension credit. This is increasing from 60 to 66 in line with the increase in the state retirement pension age for women. You can use the calculator on the government's website to check when you reach 'state pension credit qualifying age'. Look at the date you may be entitled to receive Pension Credit from, not the date you reach State Pension age.
  • your home is part of a shared-ownership scheme
  • the Council has placed you in temporary accommodation for homeless people
  • you live in certain types of supported or sheltered accommodation

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