Overcrowding & Room Sizes
Licensable HMOs (England only)
Where an HMO requires a licence, there are minimum room sizes in England from 1 October 2018 that will apply:
- the floor area of any room in the HMO used as sleeping accommodation by one person aged over ten years not to be less than 6.51 square metres;
- the floor area of any room in the HMO used as sleeping accommodation by two persons aged over ten years is not to be less than 10.22 square metres;
- the floor area of any room in the HMO used as sleeping accommodation by one person aged under ten years is not to be less than 4.64 square metres;
- any room in the HMO with a floor area of less than 4.64 square metres is not used as sleeping accommodation.
Housing Act 1985 (England and Wales)
The legal standards covering overcrowding are contained in the Housing Act 1985 and cover all dwellings.
The occupancy level standards for dwellings are laid down in Part X of the 1985 Housing Act, which specifies maximum permitted occupancy levels in consideration of the total number of habitable rooms available and the number of persons liable to be occupying individual rooms for sleeping purposes.
The standards consider age; babies under one year are not counted, and children under the age of 10 are counted as half a unit. They do not permit persons of the opposite sex over ten years to use the same room for sleeping unless they are partners.
The permitted number of persons concerning the number of rooms available in the dwelling for sleeping purposes is whichever is the less of:
A) The number specified in table 1 concerning the number of rooms in the dwelling available for sleeping purposes and
B) The aggregate for all such rooms in the dwelling of the numbers specified for each room of the floor area specified in column 1 of Table 2.
No account is taken of rooms with a floor area of fewer than 50 sq feet.
|No. of rooms||No. of persons|
|5 or more||2 for each room|
|The floor area of the room||No. of persons|
|110 sq. ft. or more||2|
|90 – 110 sq. ft.||1.5|
|70 – 90 sq. ft.||1|
|50 – 70 sq. ft.||0.5|
It is important to note that these are not necessarily minimum room sizes.
The calculation is as follows:
"... in relation to the number of rooms available in the dwelling for sleeping purposes ..." and "The aggregate for all such rooms in the dwelling ... ".
Therefore, it seems that if there is a room of between 50 and 70 sq. ft. where half a person is counted (consequently a child of under ten allowed), but another room was allowed one and a half persons, but only one person is residing, this means half can be taken from this under-occupancy and added to the small room of half, thus allowing one person in a room of between 50 - 70 sq. ft. (if that makes sense?)
Housing Health and Safety Rating System (England and Wales)
The statutory guidance accompanying the HHSRS does not assist much with room sizes. Under para 11.20, it states:
Matters relevant to the likelihood of an occurrence and the severity of the outcomes include ... h) Bedroom size – inadequate size of bedrooms. ...
Reference is made to the Size and Layout sections of the Housing Quality Indicator system (ODPM) and publications such as Metric Handbook – Planning and Design Data. However, I have been unable to locate any helpful information regarding these two publications that might help determine a minimum bedroom size.
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Licensing of Private Rented Properties
The Housing Act 2004 introduced licensing of private rented premises. It is compulsory to license larger, higher-risk dwellings, but local authorities are also able to license other types of rented premises, including other lower-risk HMOs and individual houses and flats, if they can establish that other avenues for tackling problems in these properties have been exhausted.
Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO)
Special requirements apply to types of properties known as Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) which place special responsibilities on landlords and agents.
Housing Health and Safety Rating System
The Housing Act 2004 places a statutory duty on local authorities to identify hazards and to assess risks to tenants’ health and safety. Local authorities are required to use a system called the Housing, Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS)