Council house exchange advice - Overcrowding

Current legislation Part X Housing Act 1985 uses two legal standards to determine occupancy/overcrowding.

1) The Room Standard - s325

How to determine the makeup of your household when applying the Room Standard:

This standard determines occupancy by the number of available bedrooms within the property:

Property in excess of 5 Bedrooms - Legislation permits that each additional Bedroom may accomodate an additional 2 Units.

2) The Space Standard - s326

How to determine the makeup of your household when applying the Space Standard:

This standard determines occupancy by the size (floor space) of available rooms within the property, which are considered useable for sleeping. In addition to Bedrooms, this standard takes into account Living Rooms and Dining Rooms where available.

Where there are 2 rooms within the property, the maximum number of persons/units is only 3, even if both rooms are more than 10.2m2 in size.

Measuring a Room


No Children of the opposite sex and of 10 years or above should have to share a Bedroom

If overcrowding can be shown under either standard, then a legal issue of overcrowding exists.

There are exceptions as set out by s328 - s330 of the act:

328 Exception: children attaining age of 1 or 10

329 Exception: visiting member of family

Where the persons sleeping in an overcrowded dwelling include a member of the occupier's family who does not live there but is sleeping there temporarily, the occupier is not guilty of an offence under section 327 (occupier causing or permitting overcrowding) unless the circumstances are such that he would be so guilty if that member of his family were not sleeping there.

330 Licence of local housing authority

Rooms which can be counted as available for sleeping under the Space Standard

The Space standard sets out that; a room can be counted as available for sleeping, so long as it is the type that can be used in the locality, for either a Living room or Bedroom. So effectively only Bedrooms & Living Rooms within the property (locality) can be counted as available.

Can a room be counted as available for sleeping, where a gas fire is fitted?

In terms of a Gas Fire being present in one of those rooms; with affect of October 1998, HSE guidance states that; any room converted to use as sleeping accommodation should not contain the following types of gas appliances:

If the appliance does not comply with either A or B, then the room cannot be considered as 'available for sleeping' until either the appliance is changed to comply or removed completely. The exception to this would be short term use - for example temporarily sleeping in the room as a result of illness.

What the law says:

The Tenants responsibility

s327 - Penalty for occupier causing or permitting overcrowding

The Landlords responsibility

s331 - Penalty for landlord causing or permitting overcrowding

Information is provided for guidance purposes only, we always recommend that you seek professional legal advice where appropriate

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