Phone system

We are experiencing issues with our phone system which means that we cannot make or receive calls in the usual way.
Work to reinstate the phone system has begun on 29 February and we will continue to work with BT on 1 March.
We apologise for any inconvenience this causes.

Overcrowding and under-occupation

Overcrowding

You will normally be overcrowded where one or more of the following apply:

  • the property is lacking one or more bedrooms that you require
  • two children of the same gender are sharing a bedroom, where one is aged 16 or over
  • two children of opposite genders are sharing, where one child is over 10 years of age
  • there are not enough bedrooms for all the people in your household who can be reasonably expected to live with you

There may be exceptional cases where separate bedrooms for household members may be needed on medical or social grounds. This will need to be confirmed by a professional.

Please note that if you are successful in bidding for a housing association property with an additional bedroom, you may not be eligible for a higher rate of housing benefit or the housing element of universal credit. You may be considered as under-occupying (having a spare bedroom).

Statutory overcrowding

Where a household applies to Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council as homeless, the council must decide whether they are homeless under section 175 of the Housing Act 1996. In reaching a decision, the council will consider whether a household is statutorily overcrowded and whether it is reasonable for a household to continue to occupy their accommodation. Where it is determined by the council that statutory overcrowding exists, under section 177(2) of the Housing Act 1996, the council may also consider the general housing circumstances within the borough.

How you can improve your overcrowding situation

There is a shortage of social housing in the borough and it can take a long time to secure this type of housing. You should consider trying to improve your current living arrangements whilst you wait for more suitable accommodation. Are you able to:

  • de-clutter your home to make extra space or use storage solutions
  • change the sleeping arrangements in your home, for example by using a sofa bed in your living room
  • use bunk beds to make better use of the space available
  • use folding tables or other alternative furniture to create additional space
  • find larger accommodation that is more suited to your needs in the private sector

Under-occupation

You may have a reduction in your housing benefit entitlement or the housing element of universal credit if:

  • your current housing association property is too big for your household
  • you have a spare bedroom or bedrooms
  • your children have separate bedrooms

This is due to under-occupation rules introduced by the government in April 2013. You may have heard this called the bedroom tax.

Information of how you maybe under-occupied

You should be aware of the following:

  • you will be entitled to housing benefit or the housing element of universal credit for one bedroom for each person aged over the age of 16 or each couple in your home
  • two children under the age of 10, regardless of gender, are expected to share a bedroom
  • children aged 10 years of age or older, but under the age of 16, are expected to share with one other child of the same gender
  • children with a disability may not be expected to share a bedroom. The housing benefit team or the DWP will decide about this referring to supporting information
  • you may be entitled to housing benefit or the housing element of universal credit for an additional bedroom if you require a resident or non-resident carer who provides overnight care for a member of your household. The housing benefit team or the DWP will make decisions about this using relevant supporting information
  • you will be entitled to housing benefit or the housing element of universal credit for a bedroom for foster children, even when you are between placements
  • you will be entitled to housing benefit or the housing element of universal credit for a bedroom for any member of your household who is a serving member of the armed forces
What happens if you are under-occupying?

If you live in a housing association home and claim housing benefit or the housing element of universal credit, they will assess whether you are under-occupied. If you are, there will be a percentage reduction to your housing benefit or the housing element of universal credit. This will depend on how many rooms you are under occupying. If it is decided that you have more bedrooms than the rules allow you will have to make up the difference regardless of what the extra room is used for:

  • 14% if you are considered to have one extra bedroom
  • 25% if you are considered to have two or more extra bedrooms

For example, Mr and Mrs Jones live in a two-bedroom housing association flat costing £70 per week in rent and receive maximum housing benefit or housing element of universal credit of £70 per week. From April 2013 the amount of eligible rent used in the calculation would be reduced by 14% or £9.80. This is because their second bedroom is regarded as a spare room under the new rules and they are considered to be under-occupying. Therefore, the maximum housing benefit or housing element of universal credit that Mr and Mrs Jones can receive is £60.20 per week.

If you have any queries or have been affected by these changes it is important that you contact the housing benefit department or the DWP regarding your universal credit on 0800 328 5644. Further information relating to universal credit can be found by visiting the GOV.UK universal credit page.

Are you affected by the new rules

The under-occupation rules will not affect you or your partner if you have reached pension credit age.

Check if you are of pension credit age by using the Gov.uk state pension age calculator.

The reduction in housing benefit entitlement or the housing element of universal credit for households with extra bedrooms also will not apply to:

  • people living in shared ownership properties
  • people living in caravans, mobile homes and houseboats
  • people living in some types of supported accommodation
  • homeless people housed in short-term accommodation provided by the council, unless the accommodation is owned by the council
Details of what your options are if you are affected by the new rules

You could consider:

Moving home

  • Move to other housing association accommodation with the help of your landlord
  • Use the Homeswapper scheme to find alternatively accommodation
  • Look at privately rented properties to find the right size accommodation for your household
  • Join the council’s housing register as a transfer applicant, a transfer via the housing register is unlikely to be your quickest option

Rent out your spare bedroom(s)

With the agreement of your landlord you may be able to take in a lodger to fill any unoccupied room(s). This would mean your spare room would not be treated as unoccupied for the purposes of applying for housing benefit or the housing element of universal credit. You will not be affected by the under-occupation rules. You may find you are better off due to the additional income.

Have family members contribute more

If you have non-dependants living in your home the excess rent you are now responsible for could be covered through their rent contributions.

Look for work/increase hours

Look for work or increasing working hours to increase your income and help to cover any reduction.

Further information

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