I am sick and tired of local councils taking the p*ss when it comes to the bedroom tax. Council impose this tax and assume the tenant is guilty and disgracefully has to prove their innocence AND then try every possible way to avoid the cost of making a lawful decision.
Let’s cut to the chase and the Nelson Upper Tribunal decision said unequivocally and unambiguously that when a tenant appeals the bedroom tax by virtue of size, layout and configuration and asserts that the disputed room is less than the Tudor Walters minimum criteria of at least 65 square feet of floor space …. THEN the council has to visit the property in order to comply with the law and say why the room is or is not correctly deemed to be a bedroom for bedroom tax purposes.
Paragraph 55 of Nelson says that any room less than the Tudor Walters 100 year old minimum of 65 square feet means that:
“… floor areas referred in them provide cross checks that indicate that (or warning bells that) the room may be too small and thus the need to provide reasons why, in the particular case, either it is or is not too small.“
The highlighted bit above shows this change of onus being put on the local council decision maker and this comes directly after paragraph  of Nelson which says – seminally – that:
“We also agree with the Secretary of State … supports the view that Parliament intended to allow decision makers to take account of all relevant circumstances on a case by case basis.”
Legal speak aside what this means in very simple terms is that when a social tenant disputes that a room is large enough to be correctly and lawfully deemed a bedroom for bedroom tax purposes, that the council – who is the decision maker referenced above – has to come out and measure the disputed rooms and has to say why in detail that the disputed room is or is not a bedroom.
We also see post Nelson Upper Tribunal decisions such as CH415 of 2015 I reported on here which says that for a room to be correctly deemed a bedroom it:
“…should be capable of accommodating a single adult bed, a bedside table and somewhere to store clothes (see paragraph 33 of Nelson), as well as providing space for dressing and undressing.”
So when the council decision makers have come out to visit they then need to say that the disputed room IS capable of storing all the furnishings above and has enough free floor space to dress and undress – that is what they have to do yet they abjectly refuse to do this and in flagrant contempt of the law.
A tenant could if they wanted simply maintain a room is not of a size to be a bedroom and the council would still have to come out to view it even if that room is the size of a football pitch – that is what the legal precedent or law in Nelson says and says clearly.
In short, once disputed, the ONUS passes onto the council as decision maker to legally justify its decision by coming out to view the disputed room.
Yet this costs local councils and so they seek any and every way to avoid coming out to measure and view and rooms that are disputed. That is what the bedroom tax decision making process comes down to – it is a matter of cost that the council decision maker wants to avoid, end of!
As I have said previously every bedroom tax household should appeal as then the cost of their council coming out to view every disputed room would be so exhorbitant that the policy fails through such direct action and is resigned to history very quickly indeed.
Many councils flatly refuse to go to the expense of visiting and so tenants should then inform their councils they want the matter referred to the First-tier Tribunal for a formal appeal and this leaves the tenant with two options.
1. The tenant could submit their own measurements and attest they are accurate by putting a signature to their submissions and as long as the tribunal finds the tenant to be a credible witness then it must accept those measurements.
2. The tenant ahead of the tribunal hearing can ask the tribunal to direct the council to go out and measure the disputed rooms and the tribunals do have the powers to direct this.
Option 1 could see the tenant pinch a few inches off the length or width (not that I am recommending they do I hasten too add) and that is not acceptable in any moral or indeed legal sense.
Option 2 forces the councils to get off their arses and go to the cost of making a legally correct decision that they should have done in the first bloody place and which the law as laid down in the Nelson decision says they have to do, that is to go out and visit each and every property.
I so prefer Option 2 as councils deserve every penny of the huge cost their dodgy and sham bedroom tax decisions have caused. Children have been evicted for bedroom tax arrears because councils could not be arsed to make a legally correct decision on the bedroom tax in the first place. Further, it will only take one tribunal to direct (ie order) a council to go out and measure for this sham to be exposed for what it is and for the law in Nelson to be upheld. Moreover, local councils must know they are taking the piss and having outright contempt for the law and for shafting 450,000 vulnerable tenant households they have imposed the bedroom tax upon in NOT going out to measure and view disputed rooms.
Nelson was handed down EIGHTEEN MONTHS AGO and yet some councils claim not to know of its existence and even more incredulously some say it does not mean they have to reconsider each decision that is disputed and which means they have to go out and view the disputed rooms. They do!
This is not a political point as all councils whether controlled and run by Labour councils or any other party and not just Conservative councils try to convince tenants that they have no discretion, or it is up to the landlord, or you signed for a 3 bed ergo it is – or just about any excuse in order to avoid making a legally correct decision because it costs councils money to go out and visit disputed rooms in bedroom tax households.
In short, councils will say any old shite to avoid this cost.
It’s time we named and shamed every council who seek to avoid making legally compliant decisions in the bedroom tax and time we all said enough is enough and forced the issue.
No doubt councils will issue mealy-mouthed retorts such as this is government policy not ours and we must do this. Yet at the same time and without a trace of irony these local councils refuse to see that they are not doing what the LAW says they must do and the rank hypocrisy of this Nuremberg defence is exposed!
Local councils ARE the decision makers that the law says must take into account all factors on an individual basis when a room is disputed, yet they persist in saying we have no discretion, we can’t change the decision, it is up to the landlord and any old shite in order to avoid the cost of making the bedroom tax decision lawfully.
Be in no doubt they are just if not more to blame for this than central government as for local councils to make a legally valid decision costs them too much to make and instead of making that argument to central government, local councils chose to shaft the vulnerable tenant by imposing the bedroom tax in the first place!
The quickest way to get rid of the bedroom tax is for tenants hit by it to appeal and then to force their local councils to follow the law and come out and inspect all disputed rooms. If tenants don’t do that then they have only themselves to blame.
Just as I am sick and tired of local councils taking the piss out of the bedroom tax tenants, I am equally sick and tired of bedroom tax tenants moaning about the policy and not appealing it. The answer to getting rid is in YOUR hands so as harsh as this may read stop moaning about the policy and about your disabilities and instead appeal the bloody decision which is your right and the policy will soon be dead and buried.
Once you have appealed by all means put me in the stocks in the town square and pelt me with rotten tomatoes for being so ‘harsh’ ….