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Bedroom Tax. Being bounced between housing and benefits !


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Hi all,

 

I have recently written to my local council after having to go back onto ESA through illness and being Sacked at work due to absence relating to illness. Anyway, they assessed my award and said I am under occupying my property by one bedroom !

 

My property is classed as a Three Bedroom mid terrace property. I wrote to the benefits section on 04/12/13 and they have replied stating that I should take it up with housing to reclassify the property if I do not feel it has 3 bedrooms.

Now, I do not technically dispute the property having three bedrooms. What I do dispute is that my children should be forced to share either of the rooms (in order to take in a lodger, even tho my Local authority do not allow this).

 

The make up of my household is this -

 

Two children aged, 8 & 10. Both Girls.

Myself (Dad)

Partner (Step mum)

 

Now, the two childrens bedrooms are 64.5sq feet and 99.6 sq feet in size. Under the Space standards act the larger room can accommodate 1.5 units and the smaller of the two only .5 units. Both my children count as 1 unit under the revised act as they are both over 5 years old.

So unless Ive missed something and I can cut one in half to spread them equally it just Can NOT be done !

 

 

Now, according to the Local Authority benefits department, The Space standards act does not apply to benefits ??? Even tho looking at the case http://speye.wordpress.com/2013/09/13/judge-rules-housing-act-overcrowding-size-issues-apply-to-the-bedroom-tax/ that went to tribunal states it DOES !

 

After speaking to my council today on the phone they are just going to play ping pong with me between housing and benefits departments.

 

What do I do now ? Do I appeal again or go to tribunal and if so do I have a case based on my position ?

 

The letter I wrote is quoted below.

 

Dear housing benefits department,

 

I am writing to you today with regards to the governments levy on allegedly having a spare bedroom.

 

I wish to appeal the councils housing benefits departments decision that I have one excess bedroom and challenge the charge for this room with my submissions below –

 

I have two children living in my property, both female- aged 8 and 10 years old. My property is considered a THREE bedroom property, although in reality the third bedroom is only suitable for a small child under the space standards act.

 

My Children’s bedrooms measure, 64.5 sq feet and 99.6 sq feet.

 

The space standards act 1985 chapter 68 states that “50 sq ft or more but less than 70 sq ft” is suitable for 0.5 units.

The act also states “90sq ft or more but less than 110st ft” is suitable for 1.5 units.

 

The act defines a person or unit as defined in;

“ section 3 (2)(a)

A child under the age of five shall be reckoned as half a unit and a person aged five or over shall be reckoned as one unit”

 

Using the above quoted sections, the room measuring 64.5sq ft is suitable for 0.5 units. The room measuring 99.6 sq ft is suitable for 1.5 units.

My children are both over the age of Five so for the purposes of the act are classed as One unit each.

So under the Space Standards Act 1985 it is not possible for my two children to share a bedroom as it would breach the above act. Therefore I do not agree that I am under occupying.

 

Furthermore,

 

I would like to draw your attention to a First tier tribunal decision on 26/08/13.

Ref–SC108/13/01318. This case was heard in Kirkcaldy, but this is not relevant as the housing acts for Scotland in regards to space standards are the same as in England.

 

The above judgment at tribunal ruled that a room with a floor area of 67 sq feet was not usable as a bedroom on the basis of only being fit for 0.5 units and not an adult. Please find below a quote from the judgment.

 

“…I would accept that the disputed room is of a size that would normally be regarded as too small to be used as an adult bedroom. I accept that the thrust of Mr Sutherland’s submission here, namely that under-occupancy can be seen as the flip side of overcrowding, and that it is relevant to have regard to statutory space standards. These indicate that a room of this size is appropriate for use as sleeping accommodation by a young child but not an adult. It is in effect regarded by section 137 of the 1987 Act as only half a room. I also accept, having regard to Circular A4/2012, that paragraph B13(5) generally presupposes that to be classified as a bedroom a room should be large enough to be appropriate for use as a bedroom by an adult – or by two children.”

This paragraph refers to the following information from the Secretary of State,

 

“paragraph 63 and Annex C of Circular A4/2012 the Secretary of State suggests that claimants with additional rooms should consider taking in a lodger. The inference from this was that an additional room should only be classified as a room was too small for this purpose and so should not be classified as a bedroom”

 

With the above quoted text from the above mentioned judgment, I also believe the room cannot be counted as a bedroom for the same reasons quoted. Also, I am unable to rent this room out as it is a breach of my tenancy conditions and regarded as sub letting.

I have read the bedroom tax guidelines and they appear to be in direct conflict with the Space Standards Act 1985 in most cases.

I wish the council to accept the above statements as my appeal against being charged the levy for under occupation and for ALL amounts charged since the introduction to be repaid into my rent account and no further deductions made.

Regards

 

 

This is a link to the actual decision which is attached to the article - http://speye.wordpress.com/2013/09/06/significant-bedroom-tax-tribunal-result-landlord-3-bed-tribunal-1-bed-appeal-appeal-appeal/

Edited by 2ltr16valve
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Are you in social or private rented accomodation?

 

Onr is LHA and one is the so called bedroom tax.

 

Either way the law states that your two children can share a room for benefit purposes so onto a loser either way.

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Are you in social or private rented accomodation?

 

Onr is LHA and one is the so called bedroom tax.

 

Either way the law states that your two children can share a room for benefit purposes so onto a loser either way.

 

Hi tomtom

 

In social council house.

 

I understand what the 'guidance' states, but surely the guidance/law can not be sound if it breaks another - being the housing act (space standards) as ive laid out above ? Also, a first tier tribunal has already stated the space standards act applies - ive linked to it above.

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In your circumstances you are under occupying your property by one bedroom, it matters not what size the smallest bedroom is.

 

How ? Care to explain.

 

Space standards state minimum room size per unit.

 

My children's room equal 0.5 units and the other to 1.5 units. As my girls are both over 5 they are classed as 1 unit each.

Thus there is not a room that can accommodate 2 units. In fact the smaller room is actually too small for my child according to the space standards act.

 

Every single appeal at tribunal has been won on the basis of the space standard. So how does my situation differ ??

 

Ty

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This is not a settled area of law, unfortunately, and first-tier tribunals don't create binding precedents. However, as you correctly point out, other cases have been decided in a way that would be favourable to you. So if you're prepared to do the legwork, I can't see any reason why you shouldn't appeal on this basis.

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This is not a settled area of law, unfortunately, and first-tier tribunals don't create binding precedents. However, as you correctly point out, other cases have been decided in a way that would be favourable to you. So if you're prepared to do the legwork, I can't see any reason why you shouldn't appeal on this basis.

 

Thank you :)

 

How do I go about preparing my case so it's fairly watertight for tribunal

 

Regards

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My smallest bedroom is 5ft x 6ft and as the door is half way along the wall all it fits in it is a single bed and a tiny bedside unit. No room for chest of drawrers or wardrobe and I still pay bedroom tax on it. The size criteria only covers OVERCROWDING definitions in law, and NOT WHAT IS AND WHAT ISN'T A BEDROOM so is totally irrelevant to your case. I am paying 25% of the rent myself due to having two under occupied bedrooms at present, due to the situation, I am just doing what needs to be done. I am hoping another political party will get in at the next election and do away with the under occupancy charge as it is rendering people homeless and suicidal and often affects the poorest who have no choice to downwisze or the disabled who's adapted properties it would be financially detrimental to leave (me included).

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My smallest bedroom is 5ft x 6ft and as the door is half way along the wall all it fits in it is a single bed and a tiny bedside unit. No room for chest of drawrers or wardrobe and I still pay bedroom tax on it. The size criteria only covers OVERCROWDING definitions in law, and NOT WHAT IS AND WHAT ISN'T A BEDROOM so is totally irrelevant to your case. I am paying 25% of the rent myself due to having two under occupied bedrooms at present, due to the situation, I am just doing what needs to be done. I am hoping another political party will get in at the next election and do away with the under occupancy charge as it is rendering people homeless and suicidal and often affects the poorest who have no choice to downwisze or the disabled who's adapted properties it would be financially detrimental to leave (me included).

 

All I can suggest is you go to tribunal. There has been many cases already where first tier tribunal HAS ruled it IS relevant in regards to space standards. If the room is not big enough for the person the council insists is expected to occupy it then it's clear cut.

Have a read of this. Every case that has been won was because the space standard. http://m.insidehousing.co.uk/6528701.article

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Are you arguing the housing benefit regulatiosn or the so called bedroom tax, as the two are not related.

 

HB regulations state that children of the same sex can share one room until I think 16.

 

Bedroom tax is for under occupancy.

 

As you and your partner are entitled to one room and your children are entitled to one room then you are under occupying.

 

You would have to argue the HB regs are incorrect in order to argue the bedroom tax as there are two seperate issues invovled here which effect your entitlement.

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Thank you :)

 

How do I go about preparing my case so it's fairly watertight for tribunal

 

Regards

 

Can I ask the date of the original housing benefits decision your appealing against !

Please use the quote system, So everyone will know what your referring too, thank you ...

 

 

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It was around end of November this year.

 

Ty

 

Sorry,Could you tell us the exact date please ?

Please use the quote system, So everyone will know what your referring too, thank you ...

 

 

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I can post that once home as I'm not in at present. Should be around 6ish if that's okay

 

Regards

 

OK thanks....

Please use the quote system, So everyone will know what your referring too, thank you ...

 

 

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Hi.

 

The date on award notice is 22nd November 2013.

 

Ty

Today is 21st December 2013

 

Unless it's changed ?

 

You only have one month from date of the decision to lodge an appeal...

 

Maybe CAG user Starryeyes52 could help if she comes across this thread...

Please use the quote system, So everyone will know what your referring too, thank you ...

 

 

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Today is 21st December 2013

 

Unless it's changed ?

 

You only have one month from date of the decision to lodge an appeal...

 

Maybe CAG user Starryeyes52 could help if she comes across this thread...

 

I have already written to them stating what I have quoted in my first post. An they have written back saying I need to contact the estates offices to request they recatagorise my house to a two bed which isn't going to happen.

 

As I say and stick by. I do not see how any department or rule that goes against the space standard can be legal. On the basis that the housing act and space standards act define the living space required for each person or persons.

 

My two girls could share a room until they are 16 … IF that room is big enough to house two persons. In my case it isn't, neither room are.

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I have already written to them stating what I have quoted in my first post. An they have written back saying I need to contact the estates offices to request they recatagorise my house to a two bed which isn't going to happen.

 

As I say and stick by. I do not see how any department or rule that goes against the space standard can be legal. On the basis that the housing act and space standards act define the living space required for each person or persons.

 

My two girls could share a room until they are 16 … IF that room is big enough to house two persons. In my case it isn't, neither room are.

 

Sorry,print was a bit too small for my eyes !

 

Have the HB wrote back then saying they have your appeal and have forwarded to the tribunal ...

Please use the quote system, So everyone will know what your referring too, thank you ...

 

 

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Sorry,print was a bit too small for my eyes !

 

Have the HB wrote back then saying they have your appeal and have forwarded to the tribunal ...

 

Nope. Just said their condition is unchanged and to contact housing dept.

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Nope. Just said their condition is unchanged and to contact housing dept.

 

 

I would ring HB 1st thing on Monday morning and find out.....

Please use the quote system, So everyone will know what your referring too, thank you ...

 

 

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I would ring HB 1st thing on Monday morning and find out.....

 

Because my scanner does not work I will type the letter word for word.

 

Re: Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit Reference: (no reference on letter)

 

I refer to your correspondence received on 12th December 2013 requesting for a reconsideration of the Authorities decision concerning under occupation at the property and a restriction on entitlement to Housing benefit accordingly, please be advised of the following.

 

In order to reconsider a decision made the claim holder is required to submit as to why the Authority has made an error in its calculation or as to why the decision is flawed in its outcome.

 

I therefore write to confirm the Authorities decision on the basis under occupation is correctly applied in line with legislation based on the size of your current household.

 

For your information, please be advised of the following.

 

Under occupation legislation enacted within the Welfare Reform Bill 2012 brings social housing into line with legislation applied to tenants within the privately rented sector.

 

In this instance the calculation of the number of bedrooms required at a property is as follows.

 

Children of the same sex under the age of 16 are required to share a room.

 

Children of different sex are required to share a room until the age of 10.

 

Children of different sex over the age of 10 are entitled to 1 room each.

 

Single claimants or claiming couples are entitled to 1 room.

 

Non dependent adults in the property are entitled to 1 room.

 

 

On the basis of your current household contains 2 children. Of these 2 are of the same sex under the age of 16. This means your children require 1 room.

 

One room is required for yourself and your partner.

 

Therefore your household requirement is calculated at 2 rooms.

 

As your property is documented as a 3 bedroom property you are considered to be under occupying your home by 1 room. If you consider that your property contains rooms that are not fit for purpose or too small than you would need to to contact the Housing Department regarding the classification of your property. Your tenancy, which you signed for lists your property as a 3 bedroom house and until such time as your property is re-classified as a property containing less bedrooms the decision regarding your Housing Benefit will be based against you living in a 3 bedroom property.

 

A deduction of 14% of the applicable rent is now applied leading to a reduction in entitlement to Housing Benefit.

 

The legislation that governs under occupation confirms exemptions for claimants of pensionable age, foster carer's, claimants with children in the armed forces, claimants who require documented overnight care only and children who have documented medical conditions or disabilities that mean they are unable to share a room.

 

However we have further discretion to exempt claimants if they can show that they are unable to share room because of a medical conditions or a disability that means that they are unable to share a room. Please note that this is at the Local Authorities discretion and there is no legislation that gives you an entitlement to this addition room.

 

You have not provided any information or adequate proof that showed we should be considering this discretion therefore the decision remains unchanged.

 

If you disagree with this decision please write within 1 calender month of the date of this decision, appealing against the decision made, ensuring any appeal is duly signed, and the reason for appeal stated.

 

Please quote your benefit reference whenever you contact the council about your claim. If you would like to speak to someone about this letter please call us on 0208 .... .....

 

 

That is in response to the letter I sent quoted in my first post.

 

Regards

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Because my scanner does not work I will type the letter word for word.

 

 

 

That is in response to the letter I sent quoted in my first post.

 

Regards

 

So there the Answer then from HB in bold type....

 

If you disagree with this decision please write within 1 calender month of the date of this decision, appealing against the decision made, ensuring any appeal is duly signed, and the reason for appeal stated.

Please use the quote system, So everyone will know what your referring too, thank you ...

 

 

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So there the Answer then from HB in bold type....

 

I know that :) lol, but what I am stuck with is what to write ? do I just state that if they are not going to change their decision then I want it sent to the tribunal ?

Appreciate your help.

 

Regards

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