Bedroom tax – how to get rid and yet more successful appeals

A room is what it is used for – no ifs no buts end of!

Every council decided in every bedroom tax decision that if a room could be a bedroom it was a bedroom and the tribunals are not having it as that it is sham.

A room is what it is used for as a matter of fact and as a matter of law.

If the room you are being charged bedroom tax for is used as a storage room, a dining room, a play room, an art room, a study, or a utility room or for any other purpose then it is NOT a bedroom so get appealing your bedroom tax decisions dear reader.  Below are a few examples of why.

Take the case of DS in Wirral reported this week

DS_Wirral_Decision_Notice_28022014_pg_1-page-001       DS_Wirral_Decision_Notice_28022014_pg_2-page-001

As the Wirral DS case above reveals:

  • it is the room usage that is key and
  • the room usage at the time the decision was made
  • and the historic usage too
  • and it quotes the Uratemp case I first mentioned over a year ago and again here before the Bolton UT decision

The Uratemp case sees the late Lord Bingham stating at paragraph 11:

“...it is necessary to consider the terms of the letting, the premises let and, in my opinion, the use made of them by the tenant: see section 1(1)(b) of the 1988 Act, which recognises that circumstances may change during the currency of a tenancy”

The use made of them by the tenant sees the Uratemp decision give (despite being in another context) a legal underpinning of the Bolton UT room usage argument.

The same Uratemp judgment which concerns what is a dwelling and 5 law lords consider housing law over centuries comes up with the longstanding housing law precedent that a decision needs to be (a) based on the FACTS of the case and (b) the FACTS at the time the decision was made.

Every bedroom tax decision taken was in a vacuum of FACT.  They were taken on the basis that if a room could be a bedroom then it was.  That is not fact it is wild assumption and legally erroneous assumption.

Further all decisions were taken with reference to what the tenancy agreement says and whenever that was signed.  The “you signed for a 3 bed in 1986 therefore it is a 3 bed” position.  Again Uratemp says this is wrong in law and it is the circumstances WHEN the bedroom tax decisions were taken and not 30 years ago!

The only way for councils to KNOW what a room is used for is to inspect each property which they will not do and prove as I have said all along that the bedroom tax decision-making process is a legal sham.

The same Uratemp quote above says the 1988 Housing Act recognises that circumstances change during the currency of a tenancy.  In lay terms 30 years ago a couple and 3 children and now just mum and dad as the kids have flown the coop – just as occupants change so does room usage!

Yet it is not just the DS Wirral case which mentions and uses the Uratemp judgment and its key elements and here is the DM case from Liverpool last week

lpool dm1 lpool dn2

Again as you can see the Uratemp underpinning of room usage is self-evident.

There have also been two more cases I have details of along the same lines and as yet I have not reported on them but for now the above two cases make the point.

Time to make this simple so even HB officers can understand it dear reader!

HB officers (and at times landlords welfare teams) say:

(a)you signed for a 3 bed so it’s a 3 bed 

Yet that is a crock as the above cases prove, it is the facts of the case and at the time the decisions were made that matters

(b) The DWP told us it’s whatever the tenancy says / it is up to the landlord 

That too is a crock as in the above cases and in all previous successful appeal cases the number of bedrooms is a matter of FACT and not what it says on the tenancy agreement

(c) If it could be a bedroom then it is a bedroom

This is the 100% adopted position of every bedroom tax decision by every council and Uratemp underpinning the Bolton UT case reveals this to be a crock as well – a room is what it is used for as a matter of FACT and not this assumptive and legally unreliable stance taken in every single one of the bedroom tax decisions.  Or in simple terms the judges at tribunal are saying its a crock too and what a bedroom is is a matter of FACT!

Surely the DWP wont have this Joe?

EVEN THE DWP ADMIT THAT EVERY ROOM IS NOT A BEDROOM ….eh!

Take a look at a Job Seekers Allowance (JSA) form online and JSA, asks the claimant for its housing circumstances.  It asks how many bedrooms you have and then asks the claimant how many OTHER rooms you have in your property.  It then has a hypertext button “what do we mean by OTHER rooms” and when you click it says:

e.g. study, utility room, play room. Don’t include other rooms or flats in the building that you don’t rent.

So even the DWP admit that it is reasonable and ‘normal’ to have a study or a utility room or a play room in your property and that these rooms ARE NOT BEDROOMS!!!!!!!!!

What was that you said HB Officer (or even landlord housing officer?) the number of bedrooms you have is what your tenancy says?  Really!!  You want to revise that errant and false view?  As if you don’t the tribunal judges will!

We can see this clearly in the DS Wirral case above when the judge totally dismisses the best but frankly ridiculous arguments of the council’s presenting officer (a nice bloke and a very  knowledgeable one too as it happens) and tells him to all intents and purposes don’t argue that nonsense again in my court!

So dear tenant get appealing and dear landlord get your finger out to support your tenant appealing as you benefit too as in every successful appeal win the rent stays the same and you and the tenant get more in HB!!

Room usage appeals are likely to be very successful when they are supported by the substantiated way I have described above as what a room IS USED FOR determines its purpose and naming.

If a room is not used as and/or furnished as a bedroom then it’s not a bedroom…and even the DWP believe that!!

_______________________________________________________________________________

PS   If landlords (and councils) finally see sense and want to buy into my near 95% appeal success rate so far call me on welfarewrites@aol.co.uk and lets see how many of your tenants can be taken out of the bedroom tax altogether!  That’s the quickest way and gets the most number of tenants taken out of this pernicious back of a fag packet policy. The above are just some of the reasons why and how and remember 81% of tenants allegedly under occupy by 1 alleged bedroom when in FACT all of those ‘bedrooms’ hit by the tax can be argued to be mere rooms and not bedrooms.

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15 thoughts on “Bedroom tax – how to get rid and yet more successful appeals

  1. Reblogged this on patricktsudlow and commented:
    So far, Manchester City Council and their Arm-Length-Management-Organisations (ALMOs), have continued to support this evil piece of legislation. Why does a Labour council support this attack on some of the most vulnerable in society?

  2. Joe lets be pragmatic here, of late I been getting the impression of that you been idealistically selling the idea of the appeals “silver bullet” as the only way to quickly kill the ‘dodo’.

    Persistently shooting the dodo might make it resistant to silver! After all winning at FTT may be a Pyrrhic victory. Its best to play the long game!

    1. Hi Chris, not sure what you mean, in the first instance isn’t an FTT the only recourse open to tenamts?
      Also, with the abolition of Legal Aid for a judicial review for this type of thing, people can’t affford solicitors representation.
      The ‘long game’ might be the abolition of the bedroom taax altogether, but many ppeople cannot afford to wait.

  3. Jon FTT is just a part of the process. An council can change the decision before its gets to first tier. Also there processes after first tier for both appellant and respondent. eg setting aside a decision, having a decision noticed corrected and getting a statement of reasons.

    What some people don’t know is that is a stage before upper tribunal, in which permission is asked of a senior FTT judge in which they can do one of three things: 1) sent it back FTT to be re decided. 2) forward it to UT & 3) refuse permission (in which one can apply directly to the UT).

    1. Thanks, Chris. That’s very iinteresting.
      So, ‘winning’ an FTT is not the solution if a Council decide to challenge this decision….the process could go on and on….

  4. Cherwell District Council Hi MaDe Bi Ri Ni, we have spoken with officers who have advised the following;

    The authority is aware of various tribunal decisions where the question of what constitutes a “bedroom” has been considered in various contexts, not just relating to the “bedroom tax”.

    The decision that you refer to is a decision of a First Tier Tribunal. As such it is only relevant to the case that the judge was considering and is not binding on any other tribunal or local authorities. Only a decision of the Upper Tribunal or a higher court would be binding.

    Therefore, the authority sees no reason to change the way in which it currently applies this legislation. However, each claimant does have the right to appeal against the authority’s decision on their individual claim.

    Regards

    CDC

  5. I would just like to say a HUGE thank you to you Joe, I have just successfully appealed against last years bedroom tax!
    With regards to ‘what constitutes a bedroom’ my local council – Basildon Borough Council have now sent a letter to me from the Stock Condition Surveyors, which goes on to explain about my property being on the Decent Homes programme, they need to come and inspect kitchen/bathroom which is all well and good as the property is nearly 30yrs old…but i wonder if this is also a ploy to see how my ‘spare room’ is used, or am i just being paranoid!

    Once again, many thanks to you!

    1. When Leeds Council came round in 2012 to get me to sign how many ‘bedrooms’ I have, I refused. They refused to look at any of the rooms, despite me inviting them to see the room I use as a study. All throough my Appeal, they have never been back to inspect. I’m now awaiting a date for appeal hearing.
      congratulations on winning yours!

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