Last edited 04 Jan 2018

Minimum room size

The building regulations do not set minimum room sizes, however they do include requirements that impact on the size of a room, such as manoeuvring space for wheelchair users in accessible rooms, door widths, corridor widths and so on.

Other standards exist which do set out explicit minimum space requirements, such as the Technical housing standards – nationally described space standard, published by the government in 2015, although, this can only be applied where there is a local plan policy based on evidenced local need and where the viability of development is not compromised

In addition, the Housing Act 1985 specifies an effective minimum room size to be 6.51m² (70ft²). Statutory overcrowding may result if a person causes or permits an adult to sleep in a room with a floor area of less than this.

However, an Upper Tribunal ruling caused uncertainty as to whether the standard applies to HMOs (homes in multiple occupation).

However, on 18 October 2016, in order to remove that uncertainty, the Housing Minister Gavin Barwell announced that new minimum room sizes will apply to shared homes in England to help ‘clamp down on rogue landlords cramming tenants into unsafe and overcrowded homes’ ref gov.uk New measures tackle overcrowded housing.

The new proposals will make it clear that bedrooms must not fall below a minimum room size (6.52 square metres for one person and 10.23 sq. m for two persons). Only rooms that meet the minimum room sizes will be allowed to be occupied for sleeping in in a licensed HMO (home of multiple occupancy), whether the room is in a shared house or is a bedsit.

This simply clarifies that the existing 1985 Housing Act space standards apply in the HMO legislative framework. However, Local housing authorities may set higher guidance standards.

Other measures proposed in the announcement included:

  • Ensuring mandatory licensing rules apply to shared homes with 5 or more people from 2 or more household, and to flats above and below shops and other business premises.
  • Requiring landlords of shared homes to provide decent storage and rubbish disposal.
  • Tightening the fit and proper person test for landlords and ensuring criminal record checks are carried out.
  • Giving councils additional powers to tackle poor-quality rented homes.

A consultation was launched on the proposed measures, and whether the current licensing arrangements for purpose built student accommodation are appropriate.

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