The Solicitor - The FindLaw UK Life, Family and Workplace Law Blog

Housing benefit: Victim of rape launches legal action against bedroom tax

A rape victim has launched a legal action against the Government's new 'bedroom tax' that tells housing benefit recipients that they must accept a benefit cut if they have a spare room that they do not rent out, reports

The case is being brought by a woman known only as 'A', who was the victim of rape, sexual harassment and stalking. As a result she has been left in a specially adapted home with a 'panic room' and a 'sanctuary system' with reinforced doors and windows.

A claims that the Government's new social housing law, introduced on 1 April this year, discriminates against her and could have a devastating effect on her life and that of her son.

The 'bedroom tax' was introduced as part of the Welfare Reform Act 2012 and came into force last month. The law means that those in receipt of housing benefit will be unable to claim housing benefit to cover their entire rent when they have spare bedrooms that they do not rent out.

Although dubbed a 'bedroom tax' by the media, councils are likely to refer to the rules as 'size-limit rules' or 'under-occupancy rules'.

The new rules apply to those of working age who are in receipt of housing benefit and who rent a home with more bedrooms than they need. The rules will not apply to any men or women who are aged 61 years and 5 months on 1 April 2013.

Solicitors acting for A say that the new rules would mean her breaching her carefully created security to allow a tenant into her home, or risk losing much needed benefits.

"Our client's life is at risk and she is terrified. She lives in a property that has been specially adapted by the police, at great expense, to protect her and her child," said Rebekah Carrier of solicitors Hopkins Murray Beskine.

"It is ridiculous that she is now being told she must move to another property... or else take in a lodger," she added.

The Department of Work and Pensions say that they believe the rules are lawful and that they do not discriminate against any groups.


Rape victim legally challenges bedroom tax (Inside Housing)