Saturday, 28 February 2015

CIH advises councils to collect data on the size of bedrooms

The Chartered Institute of Housing is advising councils to ensure they gather data about room sizes from social landlords in order to ‘flag’ properties that may be subject to appeals against paying the bedroom tax.

The CIH revealed the approach to Inside Housing following four successful appeals against the bedroom tax in Scotland.

Although the first-tier tribunal rulings do not set a legal prece­dent, one tribunal ruled it is ‘relevant to have regard to statutory space standards’ when deciding what is a bedroom and others could follow suit.

The standards state one person can occupy a room of no less than 70 square feet.

The Department for Work and Pensions has not defined a bedroom, leaving it up to landlords to describe properties to councils.The rulings have raised questions about the extent to which councils should rely on associations’ property descriptions.

 Sam Lister, policy and practice officer at the CIH, said the ‘majority of cases’ are unlikely to be problem­atic and councils can rely on landlord property descriptions.

He did advise, though, that coun­cils should ask landlords for informa­tion such as the age of a property and room sizes. This information would ‘flag’ properties in which there may be problems, so the council ‘knows to investigate further’.

However, Giles Peaker, a partner at Anthony Gold solicitors, said if a large number of tribunals start to adopt a 70 square feet rule, a ‘fair number of properties’ could be excluded from the tax. Fife Council confirmed this week that it does not intend to appeal.

Readers' comments (15)

  • Melvin Bone

    The upshot being that Housing Associations have been exaggerating the number of 'bedrooms' for their properties.

    So they may be seen to have been overcharging tenants for years...

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  • simon ryan

    i have a tennant who came to me ,very upset because she is being forced to down size yet her "spare room " is only 65sqr feet , and her landlord has done a sneaky manouver telling her she has to move or be in arears { wich she has spent 15yrs staying out of } but if she agrees to down size they will squash the arears built up by being unable to pay the "bedroom tax, now that is sneaky but what about the nxt tennant , they will be paying for a room that in reallity is only half a room , where will it all end , ????? with abolishment we hope

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  • Isn't this data supposed to be on the National Register of Social Housing - or failing that, how about reverting back to the development plan; I'm sure the rooms have not shrunk that much since building.

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  • Yes radically overcharging Melvin compared to the reasonable rents charged by those nice private landlords......

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  • If a room is deemed now not a bedroom, then does not the rent have to fall to reflect the change in the property's attributes? That may affect business planning BUT against that the reality is that a lower rent that can be paid may be preferrable to a higher rent that can't be paid.

    If anyone reading this has re-designated bedrooms, it maybe helpful to us for discuss how they have managed any change in size-related rent? Have they re-set rents lower to reflect less bedrooms or not?

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  • Joe Halewood

    A small problem according to CIH in terms of the numbers?

    I beg to differ and in the strongest possible terms.

    I have estimated that 20-25% of social housing properties have purported 'bedrooms' which ae less than 70 square feet in floor space / room size.

    This could see up to 165,000 households taken out of the bedroom tax . Note that in Fife the council suggests its is over 30% which if replicated nationally would take 200,000 properties out of the bedroom tax!!!

    Hardly a small issue CIH and most definitely not able to rely on the landlords word!

    If that 30% is replicated nationally to the 3.7m r so social housing properties then that would mean OVER A MILLION TENANCY AGREEMENTS ARE WRONG IN FACT AND IN LAW!

    A small problem anyone?

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  • Simon Irwin

    I'm with The Secret Housing Officer on this...I acknowledge there are some serious errors in the implementation of this policy but the voices now raised in dissent did not seem to be clamouring previously for reform to the HB rules. Where were the rallies asking for the tenants of private landlords to be allowed a spare bedroom should they fancy it? Clearly some need an extra bedroom but creating a fair and equitable assesement process for them would be the best way forward, rather than a "baby and bath water" approach from either side

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  • Gavin Rider

    I was once asked to review a tenant's living space because he needed more bedrooms and the local authority said he didn't need more space.

    Not only was one of the rooms smaller than the bedroom standard says it should be, another bedroom had a "box" built above the stairs using up part of the floor area, such that it could not possibly be used to accommodate the two children that the local authority said should be able to sleep in it.

    A meeting with the Housing Officer at the property resulted in him finally agreeing that the property was unsuitable and the family were later given a house exchange into a bigger home.

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  • simon ryan

    i have just been to my local council {mendip} to try to get an apeal started due to the size of the bedroom {or so called} i could not believe that the person i spoke to firstlly said i dont know how you do it ,i havnt been asked that question before { i doubt that , then when the they asked their manager , they replied , first you have to apply for the discretionary payment , then wait for a refuseall , then ask for a review, then when refused you can apeal due to size of room , , ime disgusted that just for 1 room the local council is willing to spend over £3000 in the prosses to argue a room of less than 66sqr feet is a bedroom when they know it isnt , and they say local councils are hard up , , i doubt if they will register the rooms and sizes as it will obviously affect there budget if there revenue drops , they wont be able to hit the expencess if theres less cash in the kitty , its a mad world we find ourselfs in IMPO

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  • BlokeWithAConscience

    Evidence of more unmeasured cost and bureaucracy for a policy that probably costs more than it collects.

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