Landlords must follow specific legal rules to avoid overcrowding in homes. Known as 'statutory overcrowding, the UK has rules that explain the conditions for defining bedrooms and identify rooms that can be used for sleeping.
Rooms considered as places where sleeping is permitted obviously include bedrooms, however to permit sleeping in living rooms, dining rooms, box rooms, studies, home offices, and large kitchens, safety and reasonability should be considered for use as a bedroom, before use. The rules very clearly mention that bathrooms, toilets, small kitchens, and utility rooms cannot count as bedrooms.
Overcrowding occurs when two people who are not a couple, and are of different sexes, have to sleep in the same room, excepting children under 10 who can share a room with anyone and do not count in this rule. Example: If a couple has a 12-year-old girl and a 9-year-old boy living in a two-bedroom flat with a living room, the children can share a room until the boy turns 10. At this point, the parents could move to sleep in the living room so each child gets their own room.
Overcrowding can also be determined by the number of rooms available for sleeping compared to the number of people living in the household. Those aged 10 or above count as one person. Children aged 1 to 9 count as half a person, and babies under 1 are not considered. Example: A couple with two children under 10 living in a one-bedroom flat with a living room would not be overcrowded. However, once one child turns 10, they would become overcrowded, as they now count as 3.5 people but only have two rooms safe to sleep in.
Overcrowding can result from rooms being too small, even if enough rooms are available. Only bedrooms, living rooms, and other sleeping rooms are considered for this rule. Rooms smaller than 4.65 square meters (50 square feet) are not counted.
Example: A family living in a two-bedroom flat with a living room would not be overcrowded, as one of the bedrooms and the living room are both 11 square meters. However, when the 9-year-old girl turns 10, they would become overcrowded, as they now count as five people, but the smaller bedroom is only suitable for 4.5 people. If a home is overcrowded based on these rules, individuals can seek priority on the council housing register, or, request a transfer if they already have a housing association or council home.
It is illegal for landlords and agents to allow tenancies to become overcrowded. A landlord or agent can inquire about the number, age, and sex of occupants. If a home becomes overcrowded due to a child reaching the age of 1 or 10, applying to the council for a larger home is necessary to comply with the law.
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