Most landlords won’t redefine rooms to help tenants avoid bedroom tax
Landlords do not plan to reclassify their homes
The majority of England’s largest social landlords have ruled out reclassifying properties to enable tenants to avoid the ‘bedroom tax’.
Out of 18 landlords contacted in a snap survey by Inside Housing, 13 said they were not planning to reclassify homes so tenants are no longer judged to have a spare room under the new rules, which come into effect next April. The resulting drop in rental income and concerns about existing loan agreements were cited as factors for not adopting the approach.
Some of the biggest housing associations in the sector, including Places for People, Affinity Sutton, Gentoo, The Guinness Partnership and London & Quadrant have said they have no plans to reclassify. Leeds Council, Bristol Council and Southwark Council in London also ruled out reclassification.
Hugh Owen, director of policy and communications at Riverside, called for landlords to be allowed to reclassify properties in some instances without it reducing their rental income.
He said Riverside has around 1,200 affected households where there is no genuine under-occupation, such as properties with one double room and two small single rooms occupied by a couple with two children of the same sex. They are technically under-occupying but do not have a spare room.
Mr Owen said: ‘Where there is clearly no under-occupation taking place, reclassification merely transfers the problem to the landlord. Expecting landlords to take a significant hit is both untenable and unfair.’
However, a number of landlords are considering reclassifying. Home Group has set up a working group on the issue, Midland Heart may reclassify in unspecified ‘exceptional circumstances’ and Metropolitan said it is planning to do so.
Sheffield Council said it had not yet decided and Sovereign said it was ‘unlikely’ to reclassify.
Michael Gelling, chair of the Tenants’ and Residents’ Organisations of England, said associations should use reserves or divert spending from non-core activity to help affected tenants.
Lord David Freud, welfare reform minister, earlier this month said he did not expect a widespread move towards reclassification.