The 1985 Housing Act says a room of under 70 square feet in floor space is ONLY suitable as a bedroom for a child under the age of 10. Yet what if the property you live does not allow children to live there?
How can a room of say 60 square feet in such a property be deemed a bedroom?
I don’t think it can and this came to me upon reading a post on Facebook which appeared on my page today when a 60 year old tenant relate his housing association landlord came out to measure a room in his purpose built block for sheltered or disabled tenants (60 square feet) and said it is a bedroom suitable for a child under 5 (presumably meaning under 10).
Yet all the properties in this scheme are purpose built and do NOT allow children to live there and they are denied by the landlord’s allocation policy for this scheme.
There must and will be many alleged 2 bed sheltered properties which (a) do not allow anyone under the age of 50 or 55 to live there yet (b) the second (alleged) bedroom is less than 70 square feet and only permissible as a bedroom for a child under ten.
These properties which are deemed to be 2 bed sheltered properties can only be 1 bedroom properties for bedroom tax purposes.
We can also extend that to non-sheltered properties as so many general needs properties and especially flats do cite a minimum age of 30 or 40 or whatever for tenants. In essence many flats and especially high rise flats disallow children from living there. I have just quickly checked my local choice based lettings scheme for Merseyside and there is a high rise block which claims to be a 2 bed flat and says in the eligibility criterion box for these 5th floor and above properties under “Allowed household types”:
Couple,Single person,Three or more adults with no children,Two single adults
Many social landlords, quite correctly, do not permit children to be accommodated in high rise flats and while I do not know whether these flats or others have an alleged bedroom of less than 70 square feet these claimed 2 beds can be argued to be 1 bed not 2 bed properties.
How can a bedroom that is of a size to lawfully permit ONLY a child of ten or under be a bedroom if the property disallows a child under ten to live there?
Social landlords will like this argument when it comes to sheltered housing, that is 55 and above minimum age to live there properties. These now alleged 2 bed properties can and should be correctly defined as 1/2 bed properties which can be correctly deemed to be 1 beds now and should the tenant need an overnight carer be then, but only then, correctly classified as 2 bed properties.
Such a classification would not see rent levels or HB payments reduce and the 1/2 bed property is not the paradox it may seem for a number of reasons. Firstly, many social housing FtT bedroom tax appeals have stated that a room between 50 and 70 square feet is suitably described as a bedroom for a non-resident overnight carer. Secondly, there have been UT rulings which deemed a sofa to be a bedroom so that the private tenants there are eligible for the 2 bed rate of LHA and not the 1 bed rate.
In short, and like all bedroom tax appeals, what a property IS depends on the individual facts of each individual case. Yet social landlords could and should reclassify and take many sheltered tenants out of the bedroom tax when a purported 2 bed property has the 2nd ‘bedroom’ of a size of less than 70 square feet.
Landlords should also reclassify all properties (for bedroom tax purposes) which have a minimum age and do not permit children under ten when a claimed ‘bedroom’ there is less than 70 square feet. In such circumstances I do not see how LA HB departments can reduce rent levels or HB payments should a purported 2 bed become a 1 bed in these circumstances and especially because the ONLY way HB departments can argue a rent is too high is when it is UNREASONABLY high and there are many 1 bed properties with rents higher than existing 2 bed properties.
The average differential between a 2 and a 3 bed social housing rent is £5.97 per week, or put another way the 3 bed is on average about 6-7% higher than a standard 2 bed. Yet the average social housing ‘affordable (sic) rent’ model 2 bed property which receives full HB is on average 44% higher than a ‘normal’ (ie not SR model) 2 bed social let.
Reader, I am in part beating myself up for not thinking of this line of argument before as many general needs and sheltered and purpose built disabled properties do disallow children and as such ALL bedrooms in such properties to be deemed a bedroom MUST need to be at least 70 square feet in floor space.
The number of high rise flats, which were already difficult to let pre bedroom tax, and became near impossible to lets on their upper floors after its introduction, may well now become much easier to let by taking away the bedroom tax element.
Cue social landlords putting in place more age restrictions on certain properties so their tenants can avoid the bedroom tax and a win-win situation for landlord and tenant? Why not!!