“Small room” appeal for bedroom tax

If your so-called “spare room” is too small to accommodate a single adult bed, a bedside table/cabinet or similar, and somewhere to store clothes , ie a single wardrobe and small chest of drawers – and leave you enough room to get dressed and undressed with the door closed – you may have an appeal which can free you from the bedroom tax.

Read the letter below carefully, and use it or adapt it to put in your appeal. We recommend taking it by hand to your Housing Benefit Office (One Stop Centre). It would be best to measure the room (length times breadth = floor area, but subtract any space which is not usable because of, for example, an area of low ceiling, or fixtures which stick out).

There’s a pdf version of the letter here

Claim number:

Full name:

Date of birth:

National Insurance number:

Address:

Phone number:

Leeds Benefits Service

Selectapost 15

Leeds

LS2 8BA

To whom it may concern:

Appeal against Housing Benefit (Under-Occupancy Charge) decision for 2016/17

I am writing to ask for a reconsideration of your recent Housing Benefit decision with regard to the above property. I wish to dispute the application of the “under-occupancy charge” to my claim. If the decision is unchanged after the reconsideration, I would like a full explanation of how you have reached your decision, and I also wish the case to go forward to the Appeals Tribunal. Please send me any necessary details regarding the Appeals Tribunal process.

Reason for the appeal

You have stated in your decision that my home has           bedrooms, and that I am therefore “under-occupying” by rooms. I submit that in fact I only have              bedrooms, for the following reasons:

Legal precedent regarding what constitutes a ‘bedroom’ for the purpose of the Housing Benefit size criteria restrictions for social sector tenants was set by the Upper Tribunal ruling known as ‘Nelson’ [2014] UKUT 0525 (AAC) from 26 November 2014. This states (s33) that to “fit with its ordinary or familiar meaning”, a ‘bedroom’ should be able to accommodate the storage of clothes (also at s22) and somewhere for a glass of water, and must have free floor space to get dressed and undressed (s33). It must be of normal height and be heated in the same way as other rooms (s64).

A more recent Upper Tribunal decision in CH/454/2015 has fleshed this out, ruling (s6) that for a room to be classified as 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.” This would require a minimum floor space of 65.81 square feet, not including any fixtures or peculiarities of shape which reduce the usable space (taking into account the need to open and close the door to enable access and privacy whilst dressing and undressing).

The room you are counting as a “spare bedroom” in your decision does not meet these criteria (see reverse of this letter for more details). If you are not satisfied that the information I have provided is correct you will need to arrange a visit to examine the “room” in question before your reconsideration, giving me at least 72 hours notice of your visit.

Yours sincerely,

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