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snugs1235

Bedroom tax on a room which is not a bedroom?

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Hi,

 

I am wondering if anyone has any advice regarding the changes to housing benefit regarding sparerooms in April.

 

I live with my husband in what would be a 2 bedroomed house except for the fact that he is disabled so the second bedroom has a lift that goes into it (a full wheelchair through the ceiling/floor lift). There is no extra room in this room definitley not enough for any bed.

 

I wrote back to my council when they said that they would be cutting my housing benefit by just under £20 a week explaining that this is not a spare bedroom. They wrote back with a standard letter, the same as the one I received originally. I wrote back again and got the same letter for a third time.

 

I cant afford to pay nearly £80 a month extra and will be homeless if I cant sort this out.

 

Does anyone have any advice at all, im desperate?

 

Thanks for reading.

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What's the floor area of the room? If it's less than 70 sqr feet you can argue it's too small to be called a bedroom as there's precedent in the Reigate case referred to here http://speye.wordpress.com/2013/01/29/bedroom-tax-overcrowding-more-illegalities-and-perversities/ You (and, Caggers, everyone else having problems with the bedrom tax) should read the series of blogs he's made on the subject.

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Hi,

 

I am wondering if anyone has any advice regarding the changes to housing benefit regarding sparerooms in April.

 

 

 

I live with my husband in what would be a 2 bedroomed house except for the fact that he is disabled so the second bedroom has a lift that goes into it (a full wheelchair through the ceiling/floor lift). There is no extra room in this room definitley not enough for any bed.

 

I wrote back to my council when they said that they would be cutting my housing benefit by just under £20 a week explaining that this is not a spare bedroom. They wrote back with a standard letter, the same as the one I received originally. I wrote back again and got the same letter for a third time.

 

I cant afford to pay nearly £80 a month extra and will be homeless if I cant sort this out.

 

Does anyone have any advice at all, im desperate?

 

Thanks for reading.

 

The local authority should have the common decency to give a proper answer. Two many of them just send out standard letters. I would go to your MP..

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Thank you SWL that is very interesting and is just the information that I am looking for.

 

Thank you consumer dude. It is very frustrating when I write them a letter with specific detailed questions that they dont answer at all in their standard print out! I will try one more letter using the information that SWL has given and then I will go to my MP.

 

Thanks guys.

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Sadly it may well be that your MP's one of the people behind the bedroom tax. But you should try anyway as you've nothing to lose.

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the government have left it up to social landlords to determine the number of bedrooms in a property

 

who is your landlord? is it the council? or a housing association?


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Interesting!

 

I live in an LA owned home, at the moment fully occupied but when one of my children leave home I will officially have a spare bedroom. It is 6ft by 6ft, and actually usable space is less than that as the door into it is half way along a wall so you can get a bed in there and small bedside unit, no drawers or anything, they are on the landing which we squeeze by to get to the loo (probably a fire hazard).

 

Are you saying this 6ft square room is not a bedroom? How can I prove this to my LA?

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Proof is the prerogstive of a jury so you probably couldn't but you can certainly refer your LA to the Reigate decision and see what they say.

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Hi snugs,

 

Presumably the LA had to give permission for this adaptation of the bedroom to take place so their records will show that this room with a lift platform in the middle of it cannot be used as a bedroom.

 

Forget the MP unless you know they are brilliant. Most of them are pretty useless. Instead contact your local councillor (list on the council website) and they are usually much better at getting things like this resolved.

 

Good luck,

 

DD

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abc123def,

 

I don't think any estate agent could sell a six foot square room as a bed! There is something about this in the Housing Act, I think, so try googling that with overcrowding. I'm almost sure there is a minimum square footage involved in classing a room as a bedroom.

 

DD

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There's two I think and both are referred to in that link from Speye Joe above.

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I've looked in to it. There is nothing in the housing act that says a bedroom has to be a minimum size to be a bedroom but it says what the minimum size must be to house/sleep 2, 3, etc. people. But for a single person, under the stairs and Harry Potter, that'll do it would seem.

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Having moved lots as private tenants, we've seen many houses for rent - and many newer builds in the area, don't even have one bedroom that is 10 x 7. I remember the last time we were looking we went to see a two bed house with a surprisingly low rent. We were feeling optimistic till we saw it - the whole downstairs would fit in my current living room (15 x 10) with room to spare. The main bedroom upstairs could fit a 4'6 bed and one bedside cabinet, it had a small built in closet (smaller than a double wardrobe). The other bedroom you could fit a single bed and a bedside table, it also had a small built in closet. The bathroom was so small you had to almost get in the bath to be able to shut the door behind you. Needless to say we passed on that house.

 

I know that older social housing generally has larger bedrooms, but in newer social housing, if there were a minimum size for a bedroom, some properties would have to be reclassified as zero bedroom properties.


We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office ~ Aesop

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that speye character does come up with some interesting theories, the only problem is that the theories are based upon fallacies, so are unlikely to be of much use to many (if any)

 

snugs1235

your situation appears to be such that you may have a good chance of a discretionary housing payment to top up your HB, however these are means tested and it will depend upon your income, outgoings and capital


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that speye character does come up with some interesting theories, the only problem is that the theories are based upon fallacies, so are unlikely to be of much use to many (if any)

 

 

I totally agree, having looked at the legislation!

 

Locally here we must go against the norm then as my old LA house is tiny, it may have 3 bedrooms but 1 is teensie, and the only living room is less than 5 foot wide and 12 foot long. My brother lives in a 2 bedroom new build HA house and his house is twice the size of mine. He can fit a family around the dining table and sit people on sofas all on the same day. The difference here is gardens. I could keep a multi-tude of lifestock and have play areas and garden areas if I were well enough or allowed, where as he can hang his washing out on a rotary airer and sit out there only if there is no washing on the line at the time. Mind, having been homeless twice and moved 3 times all within 2 years, I am VERY grateful for my house, small though it is.

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I totally agree, having looked at the legislation!

 

Locally here we must go against the norm then as my old LA house is tiny, it may have 3 bedrooms but 1 is teensie, and the only living room is less than 5 foot wide and 12 foot long. My brother lives in a 2 bedroom new build HA house and his house is twice the size of mine. He can fit a family around the dining table and sit people on sofas all on the same day. The difference here is gardens. I could keep a multi-tude of lifestock and have play areas and garden areas if I were well enough or allowed, where as he can hang his washing out on a rotary airer and sit out there only if there is no washing on the line at the time. Mind, having been homeless twice and moved 3 times all within 2 years, I am VERY grateful for my house, small though it is.

 

I've seen some really small 1960's builds. The LA house I lived in as a kid was huge with 3 double bedrooms, dining room, large kitchen, utility, 30 ft garden and garage. The point I was making was that if a minimum size for what constituted a 'bedroom' was set in law, then many properties would not be able to be advertised as having any bedrooms at all.


We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office ~ Aesop

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Hi,

 

thank you all so much for the information. I will write another letter to the council today. I rent from the council, so they should have all of the information.

 

I will send the letter to the head person and number specific questions I think, that way hopefully I will get some kind of personalised reply. :-)

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http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/home-news/100000-scots-to-cash-in-on-bedroom-tax-loophole.20243112

 

 

GAA believes it is possible for tenants to change the use of what might be regarded as a spare bedroom into something that need not be counted as a bedroom, and therefore not be subject to the 14% cut in housing benefit.

 

"This is of major application for disabled tenants, who may use a 'spare bedroom' for the purpose of therapy, storing wheelchairs, medical equipment or to undertake medical procedures. Other tenants may be able to avoid the bedroom tax too.

 

I have just seen this article in the twitter feed - I appreciate that this is in Scotland - could those in England use the same kind of loophole ?


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Here's a quote from Speye Joe's very informative latest post "My earlier posts where I discussed minimum bedroom sizes (MBS) in terms of a bedroom needing to be 70 square feet to be a single bedroom and anything less than 50 square feet is not a bedroom are APPLICABLE ONLY TO A PRIVATE PROPERTY assessment and not ORDINARILY to a social property and this is also unfair and discriminates against the social tenant and gain calls into question the entire bedroom tax process" Post is at http://speye.wordpress.com/2013/02/16/bedroom-tax-significant-new-developments-and-challenges-emerge/ I'm beginning to think if councils start charging people for the bedroom tax and asking them to move they'll be doing so unlawfully. Huge compensation claims ahoy!!

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SNUGS1235

 

in your case, there appears to be two avenues

 

option 1

your landlord agrees to reclassify your home as a one bedroom property - this would result in your rent decreasing to 1BR rate instead of 2BR rate - and protection from bedroom tax

 

option 2

your landlord does not agree to reclassify your home as a one bedroom property - this would result in you being subject to bedroom tax - but possibly could get a Discretionary Housing Payment to help you


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The law re housing benefits in Scotland is not a devolved matter. The advice given by the Glasgow Advice Agency applies equally in any part of the UK. Ultimately the final decision rests with your local council whichever part of the country you live in. Your council would be hard pressed to justify calling the room you describe a bedroom.

 

Note that there is no strict legal definition of "bedroom". One would suppose that as a basic minimum there should be a bed and the room is suitable for sleeping in.

 

The new regulations clearly and repeatedly stress "bedroom" If a room is used for any other purpose than that which is reasonably associated with bedrooms then it is not a bedroom. By the logic used in the regulations if you were to empty your front room and put a bed in there then this could be classed as a bedroom and you could be asked to pay for it or lose benefits.

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