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?
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|
|Bathroom and WC||3.6m²|
|Bathroom only||2.8m² (or 1m² of circ.)|
|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