January 2015 Bedroom Tax and Room Size

05/01/2015

The DWP has issued guidance in relation to two recent Upper Tribunal decisions that considered whether the 'space standards' set out in the Housing (Scotland) Act are determinative as to whether a room is a bedroom for the purposes of the bedroom tax.

The new guidance advises -

'The Upper Tribunal found that the 'space standards' set out in the Housing (Scotland) Act are not determinative as to whether a room is a bedroom for the purposes of the Removal of the Spare Room Subsidy policy.

Their view was that the starting point for determining whether a room is a bedroom is the landlord’s description of the property. Floor space is not of itself a determinative factor and small rooms should not be precluded from being a bedroom unless they have physical features or drawbacks that prevent them from being used as a bedroom by any of the people listed in the regulations such as a child, an overnight carer or an adult.

This means that it cannot be concluded a room is not a bedroom if it is less than 50 or 70 square feet without considering other factors as outlined below:

Size, configuration and overall dimensions of the room

Access

Natural and electric lighting

Ventilation

Privacy

In addition the judgment also stated that the assessment as to whether or not a room is a bedroom should ignore what it is actually being used for by the tenant. This means that rooms capable of being a bedroom should be classed as such.

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