The Bedroom Tax
Challenging the bedroom tax
Under Section 326 of the 1985 Housing Act a room which is less than 70 square feet cannot be classified as a bedroom. If it is less than 50 square feet it cannot be classified as a room at all.
So, anyone having a ‘small bedroom’ which is around 9ft by 7ft and who is affected by the bedroom tax, should consider appealing to the council on the grounds that this small bedroom is not a bedroom at all.
West Berkshire Council rule that a bedroom is not a bedroom because it is only 49 square feet
Julia Jones seemed likely to lose £17 of her £70 weekly income because of her liability to the bedroom tax as a result of her having a second room.
She appealed to her local council to have her home re-classified as a one-bedroom property.
The council agreed because the second room measured just 7ft by 7ft, which means it is not legally considered to be a bedroom.
For more on this story see www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/victory-widow-victory-sunday-people-1955436
http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1985/68/section/326 Link to Housing Act 1985 (The Space Standard)
Bedroom Tax Information & Sample Letter to Local Authority/Housing Association)
Fighting the bedroom tax - Appealing the Bedroom Tax decision
If all those subject to the new bedroom tax challenge the council’s decision to reduce their housing benefit, Council Housing Benefit offices will simply not be able to manage to process all the applications. We are encouraging as many people as possible to challenge these decisions as if enough people do this then the administrative difficulties will add to the pressure on the government to withdraw this policy.
How to do it?
Some tenants have received letters from their landlords to say the bedroom tax may apply to them. This is simply a letter for information.
For the bedroom tax to apply you will receive a formal letter from your council Housing Benefit department – a Benefit Decision Notice – with regard to the bedroom tax decision.
The Notice will say how you can appeal the decision. You will usually need to appeal within one month of the date of the notice. The letter will say that you can ask to have further explanation of the decision, to have the decision looked at again, or to ‘appeal’.
Any or all of these 3 options form the challenge. You can write asking for the council to send a more detailed explanation to you. You can then consider this explanation with a view to issuing a later appeal within the month, or ask the council to look again after they have sent you the more detailed explanation.
Here is a sample letter you can use:
I received your decision letter dated (INSERT DATE) and referenced (insert reference number) that imposed an under occupation charge, or bedroom tax of 14% / 25% (delete as appropriate) on my existing award of Housing Benefit.
I am considering challenging this with a view to considering a formal appeal. I require further information listed below to be sent to me within 7 days of this letter to ensure I have enough time to formulate any appeal and that I am in full knowledge of the facts of my case within the time allowed.
OR in the alternative I request the deadline for any such formal appeal be moved to 21 days after I receive the request information below:
1. A written copy of the Council’s policy and decision-making procedures in relation to referring a socially housed claimant decision to the Rent Officer Service.
2. A full explanation of how the council decided that (INSERT ADDRESS) was determined to be a (insert claimed bedroom numbers) bed property for the under occupation charge and this to include what involvement if any of my landlord, (INSERT LANDLORD NAME) in this process.
Please state by way of covering letter with the requested information any changed deadline date from above with regard to a formal appeal.