Every housing program has its own policy on how they determine bedroom size. You might be living in one area and have three bedrooms, then move to the next county and suddenly only have two! Or the opposite can happen.
Here’s how to figure out how many bedrooms your family is eligible for and what you can do if you don’t have the bedroom size you need.
Finding Your Policy
If you want to see how your bedroom size is determined, you need a copy of the bedroom or occupancy policy for your housing program. It might look something like this: Sample Occupancy Policy.
You may be able to find this on the website of your housing program. If you don’t see it, see if there is an “administrative plan” is posted on their website and look in that. Or you can contact them and ask them for a copy of the occupancy policy or administrative plan.
Reader’s Tip: Some administrative plans are 400 pages! If the administrative plan is long, I highly recommend using the find feature on your browser. (Ctrl+f or command+f). I’d search words like ‘sex’ ‘gender’ ‘reasonable accommodation’ ‘adult’ ‘minor’ and ‘occupancy’. These are all common words used in the section to describe the rooming requirements. You can also use those search words on Google and include your housing authorities name.
Ways Bedrooms Go Up and Down
Change in Household Size
If more people are added or removed from your household, some housing programs will automatically increase or decrease your bedrooms. Some will not. Depends on their bedroom occupancy policy.
Moving (Low Income Buildings)
If you switch to a building owned by a different landlord, they may have a different bedroom policy. Sometimes moving ONE BLOCK can make your bedrooms go up or down!
If you port your voucher to a different housing authority, they may have a different bedroom policy. Sometimes moving ONE BLOCK can make your bedrooms go up or down!
If someone in your household is disabled, and this causes a need for an extra bedroom: Five Ways to Request an Additional Bedroom
If your housing program changes their occupancy policy, this may change your approved number of bedrooms.
Some Housing Authorities are switching to a rule called “two heartbeats per bedroom.” This means for every two people there is one bedroom no matter what their ages or genders are. Some families are getting their number of bedrooms reduced because of this rule.
For Housing Vouchers Only
How Many Bedrooms Did I Get?
If you have a voucher, the number of bedrooms your family is currently approved for should be listed on your voucher. It may also be called “units.” This tells you how many bedrooms you will get so you know what number to look up when figuring out how much rent your voucher will pay for.
Can I Rent a Place with More Bedrooms?
Yes. If your house has more bedrooms than your voucher is approved for, you can still rent it, as long as the rent is within the amount you are allowed to spend.
There are a few catches: Can I Rent an Apartment That’s Larger Than My Voucher?
Can I Rent a Place with Less Bedrooms?
Yes. But there is a catch. If your house has less bedrooms than your voucher is approved for: The amount of your voucher will go down to a lower payment standard, so you will need to look for a less expensive place.
Sally has a three bedroom voucher. She rents a place with four bedrooms. This is no problem, as long as she stays within the payment standard and utility allowance for three bedrooms.
Sally has a three bedroom voucher. She rents a place with two bedrooms. This is causes a problem. She can only rent this place if she goes down to the payment standard and utility allowance for two bedrooms (also, she will need to check for overcrowding. In some situations the Housing Authority will not allow a rental if there are too many people in too few bedrooms).
What Happens When I Get Approved for an Additional Bedroom?
You will need to transfer apartments or more to an apartment with more bedrooms. (Unless you are already in a place with more bedrooms, then you can just stay still!). The amount of your voucher will also go up: How Much Will My Housing Voucher Raise if I Get Approved for An Additional Bedroom?
Thanks for Reading
🌷 This page is part of the free online guide: The Sleepy Girl Affordable Housing Survival Guide
🌷 Facebook Group: HUD and Section 8 for People with Disabilities (and family)
🌷 Page Updated: 8/1/19
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