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Check if a room counts as an extra bedroom for Housing Benefit

This advice applies to Scotland

If you rent from your local council or a housing association, your Housing Benefit might be reduced if you have more bedrooms than the rules say you need. The rules are sometimes called the ‘bedroom tax’.

The rules don’t apply if you rent from a private landlord or letting agent.

If you rent from the council or a housing association, the rules don’t apply if:

  • you or your partner is over State Pension age - you can check your State Pension age on GOV.UK
  • your landlord gives you care or support as part of your rent (called ‘supported living’ or ‘sheltered housing’)

Even if these rules don’t apply to you, your payments might still go up or down if your circumstances change - check if a change affects your Housing Benefit.

If the bedroom rules apply to you, the council will check:

  • how many bedrooms you have
  • how many people live with you
  • if anyone you live with can share a bedroom

Check what counts as a bedroom

It's usually up to your landlord to decide how many bedrooms your home has.

If you’re not sure a room counts as a bedroom, check your contract. All the rooms described as a bedroom count - even if they’re small or you use them for something else.

Contact your landlord if you don’t have a contract, or if it’s not possible to use the room as a bedroom. For example, the room might be too small for a single bed, or people might have to go through it to get to another room.

Check how many rooms you can have for Housing Benefit

You can have 1 bedroom for each person who’s single and aged 16 or older.

2 people usually need to share a room if they’re:

  • a couple
  • under 10 years old - it doesn’t matter if they’re girls or boys
  • under 16 years old - if they’re both girls or both boys

They might not need to share if they get a disability benefit and can’t share a room. There are different rules for adults and children - check who doesn’t have to share if they’re disabled.


Layla lives with her partner and 4 children. None of them is disabled.

Layla and her partner share 1 room.

2 of Layla’s children are under 10 years old - they share 1 room.

Layla’s other children are aged 10 and older. They’re a girl and a boy, so they have 2 separate rooms.

Layla is entitled to 4 bedrooms.

If you need a room for someone else

The council might not reduce your Housing Benefit if you have another room because:

  • someone is planning to move back in with you - for example if they’re a student and stay at university in term time
  • a carer needs to stay overnight for someone who’s disabled
  • you’re a foster carer or kinship carer waiting for a child to be placed with you

You’ll need to show you meet the rules about who needs another bedroom - check who’s entitled to another bedroom.

If the council think you have too many bedrooms

They’ll reduce the amount of rent your Housing Benefit covers by:

  • 14% if you have 1 extra room
  • 25% if you have 2 or more extra rooms

Your payments might not change by exactly 14% or 25%. The council might take off more or less money if you get other benefits, or if someone you live with could help pay the rent.

The council will write to tell you how much your new Housing Benefit payments will be.

You can challenge the decision if you think they’ve made a mistake.

You usually need to challenge the decision within 1 month after the date they told you they were reducing your Housing Benefit. If it’s been more than a month, you’ll need to explain why you couldn’t do it earlier.

Check how to challenge the council’s decision.

If you can't afford your rent

You might be able to get extra money from the council, or get a lodger. Check what to do if you can’t afford your rent.

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