Every bedroom for bedroom tax purposes needs to have 110 square feet of floor space – that is what the HB regulations say!!
The room size arguments have gone on and on in the bedroom tax and the Fife and other first tier tribunal decisions say bedroom needs to be 70 square feet and this is based on the reading across of legislation in the HA1985 and the HA2004. A fierce argument has raged over whether HB decisions can or should have to read legislation as a consideration in the decision or not.
Sod those arguments, the HB Regulations presuppose a bedroom needs to be 110 square feet!
As such the arguments as to whether a HB Officer takes the 1985 or 2004 Housing Acts into consideration or not is a side-show and otiose. I say again the Housing Benefit Regulations say bedroom needs to be 110 square feet!
Regulation B13(5) to be precise and that is a regulation we all know. It says what classes of person(s) is allowed a bedroom with one allocated for children of different sexes if one aged over ten, a bedroom for two teenage children up to 16 if both of the same sex and a bedroom for a couple.
(Q) Where do a couple sleep?
(A) In a double bed in a double bedroom
So all bedrooms, and note well the HB regulations do not differentiate between the lay terms ‘single bedroom’ and ‘double bedroom’ they merely say ‘bedroom’ needs to be of a size to accommodate a double bed, a double wardrobe a large chest of drawers and anything else reasonably expected to be in what we all call a ‘double bedroom’ such as a dressing table.
Regulation B13(5) by stating that ‘bedroom’ has to able to accommodate a couple means that for a bedroom to be called spare and subjected to the bedroom tax deduction needs to be a double bedroom – that is what the HB regulations mean and say!
A room of 7o square feet CANNOT physically be big enough to accommodate a double bed, a double wardrobe and a large chest of drawers
Therefore ALL alleged bedrooms that cannot fit in a double bed and double wardrobe etc, etc, CANNOT be a bedroom under HB regulations
No doubt the naysayers will come up with the DWP HB circular U6 of 2013 which said at paragraph 5:
In determining whether or not a room is a bedroom the landlord may consider a number of factors, but one of these must be whether or not a room is large enough to accommodate at least a single bed
- Firstly, the U6 came out on 23 September 2013 some six months after the bedroom tax decisions were made. Secondly it is only ‘guidance’ and not regulation.
- Thirdly, the 47 pages of highly description A4/2012 HB circular did not mention a single or double bed
- Fourthly, neither did the SI 3040 which enacted the bedroom tax
- Fifthly, and read literally, a cupboard is a bedroom as that can fit in or accommodate a single bed when on its end and needs a floor space of about 3 ft by 2 feet!
- Sixth, what a landlord says is bugger all to do with the bedroom tax decision. The bedroom tax is between two parties, the claimant who is the tenant and the decision maker who is the council. A landlord is a third-party and has bugger all to do with the decision (and also is a vested interest too!)
Guidance is not what tribunals look at. They look at regulations first and foremost and regulation has a much higher standing than guidance (look before you cross the road is guidance reader) as the regulations say what a HB authority (your council) must consider.
HB Regulations say a bedroom needs to be able to accommodate a couple. Therefore all bedrooms need to be double bedrooms in lay terms and a single bedroom in lay terms is NOT a bedroom.
We don’t need to go off on the should a bedroom tax decision have to consider the 1985 and 2004 Housing Acts at all when appealing we just need to read the regulations!
I request a reconsideration of my HB claim from 1 April 2013 as you have misread HB reg B13(5) and applied the bedroom tax deduction to a bedroom that could not physically accommodate a couple. Should you fail to review or fail to agree this argument will be a formal appeal to the tribunal.
As you can see reader this is something that is easy to challenge as the above sparse and two-minute draft is enough to do so. Of course you need to put it in writing and keep a copy and get a receipt when you hand in to your local council. You may also want to say something like:-
I note you asked my landlord about my property and they have stated it has 3 bedrooms. Yet (a) it appears you did not ask my landlord whether all 3 bedrooms can accommodate a couple as regulation B13(5) states they need to; and (b) my landlord never provided you with such information on that basis. My view is that the 2006 HB regulation B13(5) means all bedrooms need to be of a size that can fit a double bedroom, a double wardrobe, a large chest of drawers and the usual furnishings a ‘double bedroom’ entails. Please advise directly the councils position on this as a key question to be answered directly as part of your review.
You may also include I note you never asked my landlord for the square footage of each room and so it must be the case that the council did not even know that each purported bedroom is capable of being a ‘single’ bedroom in lay terms. Yet if you do include something along those lines please make sure you add a question: – Please advise where the HB regulations differentiate between a single bedroom or a double bedroom, or in point of act mention those terms?
Can you guess what the social landlords reaction to this will be? It was bad enough when I first advocated and promoted that a (single) bedroom needs to be at least 70 square feet! So, dear housing colleague, before you go blue in the face over this ask yourself two things.
- First when a tenant has won a bedroom tax appeal has the rent level reduced? The answer to that is no.
- Secondly, when a tenant has won any bedroom tax appeal do you as landlord get more or less in HB? The answer to that is yes the landlord gets more.
So why are social landlords so much against the tenant appealing the bedroom tax? Sorry dear reader and dear housing colleague the only answer I have for that is that they don’t think and are bloody stupid. Maybe that is the only answer too?
Dear reader, my the “Bedroom Tax is dead” post may have given you the impression that only room usage matters as an appeal ground and you may have thought that room size is not worth appealing now. Yet it is as I explain above and the KEY new issue here is that the HB regulations themselves presuppose a bedroom is big enough for a couple at B13(5), or in simple terms what we all know as a double bedroom for which 110 square feet is the benchmark minimum size.
Sometime this week a standard template letter will emerge for the tenant to fill in the blanks of that letter which will say to your council how do you KNOW my room is used for and furnished as a bedroom? Of course the councils don’t KNOW and they didn’t KNOW when they made the bedroom tax decisions. All bedroom tax decisions were a sham as your council didn’t KNOW what the rooms were used for or KNOW what they were furnished as and didn’t KNOW whether they were capable of accommodating a couple as the regulations say they have to be.
(Wow 6 “KNOW’s” in 1 paragraph!! Are you not going to appeal reader? KNOW KNOW KNOW NO!!)
It wont come as such a surprise that your council does not KNOW much, yet now you KNOW that your council has shafted you with a sham decision and imposed the bedroom tax deduction on you in error and in a slap dash way. They did this because …er…how can I put this… because they couldn’t be arsed coming out to inspect each property to see if alleged bedrooms were big enough to accommodate a couple or to see what they were being used for by you and that is the only way they could make a legally reliable decision. Yet that would have cost THEM a fortune so instead they thought sod that lets just impose it anyway and then deal with those who challenge the decision later on.
Now and thanks to the work of so many tenants and other grassroots activists and to the courts it is time for you dear reader to stand up and challenge. Your council could not possibly KNOW what your rooms are used for or how they are furnished or whether they are big enough to comply with what the HB regulations say they need to be at 110 square feet.
How much pain and stress has that caused you? How much have you gone without those ‘luxuries’ of food and heating and sleep worrying you would lose the roof over your head? Losing your HOME because your council couldn’t be arsed to make a decision as they should for which the judges are rightfully kicking their arses.
While I am sure you would physically like to go up and kick the council officer on the arse, and they deserve that, the best thing to do is to appeal on the twin grounds that regulation B13(5) means ‘bedroom’ has to be 110 square feet and that if your alleged bedroom is not used for or furnished as a bedroom and if it has a dining table and chairs in it then it’s a dining room, the standard letter for which will be out there this week.
Finally, the more that appeal the quicker the bedroom tax is history. It is dead in the water but the obstinate bloody minded lot at the DWP will be doing all they can to make it last until the next election in May 2015. Do you really want to lose another £800 and put yourself through more stresses reader or do you want to write a letter?
It’s a KNOW brainer! Get appealing!!