Bedroom Tax – is 90 sq/ft the minimum bedroom size?

Would your landlord get planning permission for the room they now claim is a bedroom?

That is an intriguing question and one very worthy of consideration for any bedroom tax appeal as in planning permission terms: –

  • a single bedroom has to be 6.5 – 8.4 square metres or 70.07 – 90.55 square feet
  • a double bedroom 10.2 – 11.2 square metres or 109.96 – 120.74 square feet

If the disputed room would be too small to be deemed a bedroom by your local council in planning permission terms then how can the same council deem it to be a bedroom for bedroom tax purposes?

Or:

How can your councils planning department say it is NOT a bedroom but your councils HB department say it is a bedroom?  That makes no sense whatsoever and that disparity should be put in front of the Tribunal judge at an appeal against the bedroom tax decision on room size.

Where this also differs from room size arguments such as the 1985 Housing Act on overcrowding and the Housing Act 2004 is that they both have fixed minimum sizes yet in planning permission terms note that there is discretion in the above as the minimum can be 70.07 square feet or higher at 90.55 square feet and so the discretion and the minimum is at the behest of each local council.

What is also useful to add to the above is Esther McVey when told that many larger properties of 3 bedrooms or more are becoming unlettable in many parts of the North her response was that social landlords should subdivide into smaller units.  Yet if they did the planning permission issue would have to be addressed and the typical 3 bed / 5 property could only become 2 x 1 bed properties – and many of them would be 1 single bedroom properties as the minimum double bedroom for planning permission purposes is 109.96 square feet (or 12 feet 4 inches by 9 feet)

Yet more simply this shows each council, as a corporate body, does have a definition of minimum bedroom size and in the planning department they strictly adhere to this yet the HB department choose to conveniently ignore.  To slap the bedroom tax on a claimant because the council’s HB department are resource strapped or can’t be bothered asking landlord or tenant for the floor space of each claimed bedroom is offensive as well as duplicitous.  It’s a policy of we can’t be bothered to check so we will hit you with the bedroom tax deduction regardless of the genuinely life-changing impacts this has on the claimant household.

I can see many bedroom tax affected tenants asking their local councils planning department for a copy of their minimum sizes of rooms through freedom of information requests and would advise them to do precisely that.  Arguing before the Tribunal that the same council sets a minimum of 70.07 square feet of floor space for a room to be deemed a bedroom yet the HB department says ‘bedroom’ for bedroom tax purposes can be as small as 17.88 square feet which is the floor area of a single bed and the DWP say to local councils is a bedroom in the U6/2013 HB circular is an argument the Tribunal judges would look at very seriously, and rightly so!

The inspiration for the above argument came from an email I received this week and one of many I receive from tenants and/or activists given my well-known opposition to the pernicious bedroom tax policy and especially its sham decision-making process.

The source of the information is the website of Home Builder magazine which discusses in some length and with admirable accuracy advice on planning permissions and conversions.  While this is not an authoritative source in many respects it does discuss minimum sizes and planning permission issues and the bedroom tax tenant can and should be asking for their local councils planning permission policies on minimum room sizes through a FOI request to ascertain precisely how your local council views room size.

In terms of minimum room sizes here is what this says and note the comment just above the table which says “...the rules about sizes are more applicable to social housing and are usually relaxed for private accommodation

*****************************************

Minimum Room Sizes

It can be tempting to try to subdivide existing and new space into as many bedrooms as required, particularly if budget or the size of the extension permit­ted is restricted. However, there are minimum sizes beyond which rooms will not function.

When considering applications for conver­sions, most local authorities have recom­men­ded minimum room sizes which planning applica­tions must conform to. However, the rules about sizes are more applicable to social housing and are usually relaxed for private accommodation.

Function of room Minimum Size
Double bedroom 10.2-11.2m²
Single bedroom 6.5-8.4m²
Living room 13-13.2m²
Dining room 9.5m²
Kitchen 7.2-7.65m²
Kitchen/diner 12m²
Lounge/diner 15-18m²
Bathroom and WC 3.6m²
Bathroom only 2.8m² (or 1m² of circ.)
WC only 1.3m²
Hallways and landings 900mm width

In addition, rooms must always have external windows, with the exception of non-habitable rooms such as kitchens, bathrooms, dining rooms and studies.

*****************************************

In summary the planning permission arguments on room size the above gives can be powerful ones as how can your council planning officers say a room is too small to be a bedroom yet your council’s HB officers say it is big enough to be a bedroom?

Thanks to KP and SM for alerting me to this argument and I am sure this line of argument will attract many comments on the veracity and validity of the basic argument I set out above

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15 thoughts on “Bedroom Tax – is 90 sq/ft the minimum bedroom size?

  1. Reblogged this on Beastrabban’s Weblog and commented:
    This article discusses the way an objection to the Bedroom Tax can be made based on the dimensions each council stipulate should be the minimum size for particular room. If the room the Housing Benefit people assume is a bedroom for the sake of levying the tax is, under the planning regulations, too small for a bedroom, then it is clear unfair for the HB department to levy the bedroom tax.

  2. Reblogged this on oSiAn gRiFfOrD and commented:
    Good article. Though I don’t know if picking out little details on the bedroom tax is the answer when the whole concept of it is to render people homeless, or force people to earn outside of their legal ability (as there aren’t enough jobs, and re-alocating people to one bedrrom flats does not make financial sense and is ethically questionable). still though, nit-picking through the logic-gaps and double-standard helps to show us teh system we are in.

  3. I appealed on these grounds on behalf of a friend of mine, we now have a Tribunal coming up in June.

    It seems that local councils were sent a letter by this Government that told them to allow landlords to define the number of bedrooms a property has; when I first appealed, I was told to contact the landlord and get them to re-classify the house as a one bedroom property. The room in my friends’ house is 67sq.ft. which, under the 1985 housing act, is only suitable for a child under the age of twelve, yet the council gave planning permission for this property in 1992. Obviously, when planning permission was applied for, the developer had to submit the plans for a “two” bedroomed house. Question is was it legal for the council to give planning permission for a two bedroomed house when it was in fact only had 1.5 bedrooms under the 1985 act?

    Thank you for supplying the dimentions of the other rooms. I’ll have to look at them very carefully as my friends home is one of those that has just a single room downstairs acting as a kitchen with a couple of low units dividing it from the,dinning and lounge area. The second “bedroom” is situated above the kitchen area, this means that when anything is cooked the smell filters through to that room..

  4. Dear Joe,
    The First-Tier Tribunal this week has upheld an Islington Law Centre appeal and agreed that a bedroom measuring between 50sq ft and 70sq ft (suitable for a half-person under the Housing Act Space Standard) is not a bedroom for the purposes of Regulation B13 (the bedroom tax).
    Regards,
    Lorna

  5. I just looked at the dimensions for a one bedroomed flat with a double bedroom. Mine is ten foot long and just over 6 foot wide. Ridiculous. And they say it is for one or two people! I can get a double bed along the length with a few inches either side leftover, and a small single wardrobe at the other end. Nothing else. This shouldnt be legal… and it is Housing Association. It feels like a single room.

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