Bedroom Tax & room size – HB regs say bedroom needs to be a ‘double bedroom’

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!

Dear Sirs,

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!!

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40 thoughts on “Bedroom Tax & room size – HB regs say bedroom needs to be a ‘double bedroom’

    1. Yes that could be argued as B13(5) presupposes ‘bedroom’ is large enough and that means ALL bedrooms and there is no mention of single and double bedrooms anywhere in regulations. The only mention is in the bizarre U6/2103 guidance (and that is all it is) which came 6 months AFTER the decisions were taken

  1. Joe, Here is a sanitised copy of an email I have just sent Gateshead Council.
    “To: Gateshead Council

    From: Kenneth May,
    ******

    ON THIS DAY:09/02/2014

    Dear Sirs,

    I live at the above address and I am in receipt of Income Related Employment & Support Allowance.

    My National Insurance No. is : **********

    You are charging me for Council Tax. My Council Tax Account No. is:********

    You are also charging me for the Under Occupancy Charge at the 14% rate.

    The Social Security Administration Act 1992 Part XV
    Miscellaneous
    Section 187 clearly states:

    “187: Certain benefit to be inalienable

    (1)Subject to the provisions of this Act, every assignment of or charge on—

    (a)benefit as defined in section 122 of the Contributions and Benefits Act;

    (b)any income-related benefit; or

    (c)child benefit,

    and every agreement to assign or charge such benefit shall be void; and, on the bankruptcy of a beneficiary, such benefit shall not pass to any trustee or other person acting on behalf of his creditors.”

    Therefore all charges that you have levied against me are unlawful and illegal and are VOID.

    I demand the immediate return of all monies that you have illegally taken from me.

    Your response to this DEMAND will determine whether fuller legal action against you for maladministration and/or failure to follow procedures or the law will be proceeded with.

    Yours Faithfully,

    Kenneth May.”

    I will let you know their response
    Thanks for all your hard work,
    Cheers, Ken May.

    1. It can range from 8 – 12 square metres according the the Metric Handbook as in the appendix 5c of the LACORS guidance yet it also says:

      A minimum area of 10m2 is suggested for double bedrooms (although a larger size is given for a main double bedroom).
      This is very close to the minimum room size for a double bedroom of 9.5m2 used in one of the HHSRS worked examples.
      The Metric handbook suggests 6.5m2 as a minimum bedroom size for single bedrooms.

      The 1985 HA says 110 sq/ft as does HMO guidance an as does the minimum laid down by government for dispersed asylum seekers.

      8 sq/m = 86.24 square feet though would not apply to the bedroom tax as this is only in a property for 1 person and to be in a 2 person accommodation the minimum to be under occupying it is 11 sq/m which is 118.58 square feet

      The 110 sq/ft being the one most commonly used and if a bedroom for bedroom tax has to at least be this size then about 70% would be taken out of the bedroom tax!!

  2. Brilliant again Joe. Thank you.
    Will look forward to the template letter.
    Think, I’m going to have to use it!!
    I’ve just received a letter from my council. Today.(Brighton & Hove).
    I’ve been exempted under the PRE 1996 issue.
    But they’ve said. As it’s going to change on March 3rd.
    My other reasons for appeal don’t count from then on.
    The room is 50.11 (They have not been out to measure).
    The room is not a bedroom. As it is used to store medical equipment.
    So, they have sent me Tribunal papers.

    My problem is. That in July 2002 And. July 2003. On a claim form I stated it was used as a bedroom. And, I described my property as having 3 bedrooms.. So, they say that cannot agree that the room is not a bedroom.
    PS. I do have a single bed in there.

    I have 1 month to fill in Tribunal papers. From 6th.Feb.
    Not sure, what to do??

    1. Debbie, the month is just to get something in to the tribunal. So you could just say (a) rooms are not bedrooms due to usage (b) rooms are not bedrooms due to inadequate size.. Full submission to follow.

      PM me on FB and we can go through it

  3. I just rang my housing association about this and he said they didn’t want the bedroom tax but we may find problems appealing because it’s only been nicknamed ‘bedroom tax’ and isn’t actually about bedrooms, it’s about under occupancy. He has a point but I’m going to ring my council next and set an appeal in motion.

    When I was allocated a 3 bed house in 2001, I asked why I was given a 3 bed when there’s only me and my 3 year old son. They said I was ENTITLED to a room more than occupants. Then they changed that rule to bring in the ‘bedroom tax’. This is very unfair and there isn’t any 2 bed properties about. Doesn’t help that they sold off the housing stock either. If it wasn’t for the fact I get DLA for my son, I’d be screwed. I wouldn’t be able to afford the spare room AND the 30% reduction from my council tax benefits on JSA and similar benefits. So effectively my son’s disability money is paying for these ‘taxes’.

    1. Naomi,

      You say “I just rang my housing association about this and he said they didn’t want the bedroom tax but we may find problems appealing because it’s only been nicknamed ‘bedroom tax’ and isn’t actually about bedrooms, it’s about under occupancy.”

      Your housing association in very simple language is talking through its rectum.

      The under occupation charge to give the bedroom tax its correct name can ONLY be levied on a spare BEDROOM.

      It cannot be levied on a spare ROOM it has to be a spare BEDROOM as that is what the legisaltion and regulations state.

      ALWAYS put things in writing to your landlord and your council and do not phone them and put your appeal in WRITING

      Use a form called “GL24” (google it) to make your appeal

      1. I had a look on the gov website about the legislation after the call with the housing association and found a pdf outlining it all and can see the mention of ‘bedroom’ in more than one instance, therefore, it must apply as you stated. I’ll be appealing via the form, cheers for the info. I will keep you informed =o))

  4. ” 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.”
    Looking forward to this Joe, I have 2 bedrooms upstairs and a room downstairs classed as a 3rd bedroom, more commonly known as a dining room though!

  5. i have a four bedroom property with 6 people living in it myself and my wife and 4 children 3 girls an 1 boy the 2 smallest bedrooms measure 6ft 2 x 6ft and the other room 11ft x 7ft they are only charging me bedroom tax on one bedroom but could I argue the size of the bedroom as I don’t think it is big enough to be a bedroom thank you in advance

    craig
    Newport city council

    1. What ages are the children? As depending on that the rules say you are entitled to either 3 bedrooms or 4 bedrooms in any case.

      The room (note NOT bedroom) measuring 6’2″ by 6′ you can and should appeal as not being large enough to be deemed a bedroom

    1. That gives a 3 bed ‘housing need’ in the regulations yet assumes your 3 year old daughter and 6 year old son share an alleged bedroom(!!) measuring 6’2″ by 6′ which is ridiculous.

      I would suggest strongly you appeal that you have a 4 bed and only a 3 bed and that such a small room is not fit for the purpose of being a bedroom for a 3 year old girl and 6 year old boy by virtue of its size

  6. thank you for your reply just want to try an cover everything wouldn’t they turn round and say my 3 year old daughter and 6 year old son could share the 11ft by 7ft room as the 2 oldest girls would share the 2nd big bedroom and then charge me bedroom tax on the 6’2 by 6 ft room thank you again

    as at the moment
    big bedroom 1- myself & wife
    big bedroom 2- 2 oldest girls
    11 by 7- 3 year old daughter & 6 year old son
    6’2 by 6ft -empty (charged bedroom tax)

    1. Sod what your council or landlord say and go to Tribunal which is your right. Your boxroom at 37 square feet or 3.43 sq/m is not a bedroom and the Tribunal is highly likely to find that way. submit a GL24 form now before the Upper Tribunal rule on minimum size as if you do it before they hand down their judgment you will get a backdated HB payment, wait until after they do and you wont

  7. also who do I send the form to as I have contacted my council and also my housing association and both have no clue on what the form is let alone an address for me to send it to lol makes you laugh thnks again

  8. hi guys i am newly single with two kids girls in a 3 bed semi my girls share a room n i pay 4 a box room ive never used just for storage the br is 3msquared is this exsempt as im crippled by paying the tax ive had 2 stop my daughters math tuition due to this i need help and advice please

  9. Hi I am about to move area to a 4 bedroom house. I have an 19 year old son and a 3 year old son. I will have one spare bedroom but it is a very small room. It won’t have abed in it as will be used as an office/study. It’s around 56 square foot without taking into consideration the door or radiator which someone said they have to include as unusable space so will make the room smaller. Do you think I will have a case for getting my housing benefit paid in full? Silly as I wanted another 3 bed but was an extra £50 a week couldn’t afford that once we are back to work. Also is there a copy of the standard letter to use to fight the room tax please.

  10. thank you my daughter is leaveing our house because the more money she earns the rent she as to pay shes only nineteen and paying the housing thirty pound a week for a bedroom that only fits a single bed in they moan about young people not wanting work they go out and they take blood of them wen she leaves because of this they will do me for bedroom tax so iam going to fight them

  11. Hi Joe i have a spare room that i use for when my 3year old daughter comes to stay with me and my 15yr old son he lives with me in our 3 bedroomed house.
    The spare room that the council are trying to make me pay £18 a week for is 49 sq ft of usable space i am claiming ESA (low rate) i sent in a GL24 form asking them to reconsider their decision and they replied 3 weeks later saying that the original decision stands because i stated i was not willing to move on the DHP application renewal form i am now at a loss as to what to do ?

  12. Hi i was wondering if you could give me some advice im in a 4 bed council property and are being charged bedroom tax for my smallest room 6ft x 6ft 9in it has an exposed boiler i.e no cubord just on the wall i have a 5yr old child sleeping in it and have to switch it off at night so she doesn’t burn her self on pipes whilst asleep I feel that I’m paying the tax for an oversize boiler cubord could you please let me know if this is worth appeal against

  13. Hi
    I am really confused about the bedroom tax and what is considered a bedroom according to laws/regulations in England.

    I have been living in a 3-bedroom house with my partner and son since early 2009. We were relocated because the -bedroom apartment in the building we lived in got demolished. They re-housed us in a 3-bedroom.

    The house has 2 rooms big enough for a couple to sleep in. The other room, which is not being used anymore by our child is very small (65.6sq feet). Our son now sleeps in 1 of the 2 double-rooms and has been sleeping in it for over a year now.

    My landlord says the small room is a bedroom, therefore subject to bedroom tax. My landlord said that even if it was a tiny box without a radiator, it’d be called a bedroom.

    I complained about the size of the small unused room my landlord calls a bedroom. The small room is not being used to sleep but is being used as storage for toys, clothes and important papers we need to keep.

    After I complained, a housing rent officer and a surveyor came to view the small room. They took measurements, I discussed with the housing rent officer how can this room be called a bedroom for its size? I explained that my son did not use this room. She explained that as long as a single bed can fit, it is a bedroom. She advised that a bed can be positioned such and such way.

    The way she explained how a bed would be able to fit raised issues of health and safety in my head as the way she said to position the single bed made it very near to the radiator.

    I wrote a letter to this housing rent officer making her part of health and safety arising from her advice to position a bed so near to a radiator.

    In her reply to my letter, she categorically said that during her visit, she did not note a radiator in the room, nor did the surveyor therefore her advise of positioning a bed such a way was not intentional.

    I was very much surprised of her reply stating not noting a radiator.

    There is absolutely no way someone could have missed a radiator in this small room, especially if these people took the dimensions of the room. The room is very small and when standing at the door of the room, the first things one can see are the radiator and window. Even standing from the toilet, the first things anyone can see are the radiator and window. One has to be blind not to have seen it or lie about it.

    I believe she said she did not note a radiator because when she visited the room, she advised to position a single bed a certain way, which makes the bed very near to the radiator (this raises issues of health and safety). She had to lie about not noting a radiator in the small room to avoid being into trouble giving bad advise.

    Can I appeal this? what can I do? what form do i need to appeal? please any help would be much appreciated.
    Are there laws I can use to defend myself?

    1. Ask for your councils views in writing and especially since they came out and conducted what must be considered a “review” of how many bedrooms. As this review is factually incorrect in nt even seeing a radiator then you can formally appeal the councils decision that it is

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