The Bedroom Tax loophole

Here’s an article that needs a little more exposure, especially after Saturday’s demonstrations against (among other things) the over-occupancy charge – or, as we know it, the Bedroom Tax. It seems that, according to Housing Benefit Regulations that are currently in force, if it is believed that accommodation is being overoccupied, the case MUST be referred to the Rent Officer service for a decision. If this has not taken place, but you have been docked Housing Benefit under the ‘over-occupancy’ regulations, then your Housing Benefit Officers have made a flawed and unlawful decision.
To me, it seems likely that we are looking at another cock-up of Workfare proportions and can soon look forward to another piece of retroactive legislation that will seek to legalise the mess created by ill-conceived, ill-executed nonsense that should never have been passed into law in the first place.

29 thoughts on “The Bedroom Tax loophole

  1. Tracy Henham

    There had to be a loophole, it is down right immoral and does not make sense, Mum has housing benefit too and the top amount for one bedroom, as it has said in the rules is £74 approx, my rent is no where near that, so for them to pay for one bedroom they should honour that, so as I am below the cap and they still have taken money off my benefit is just not playing by the rules surely??? or am I being thick again?

    1. Mike Sivier

      The Benefit Cap is a different thing and relates to the total amount of benefit you receive. The Bedroom Tax is applied if you are deemed to be under-occupying your house (or over-occupying the space, if you like). It can be applied, whether or not you’ve hit the limit required for the benefit cap to kick in.

  2. hrafndot

    It looks very possible and i don’t think local Rent Tribunals are going to be wanting to apply laws which could be in breach of equalities legislation and the old DDA

    1. Tracy

      This is why the government are trying to repeal the section in the Equality act regarding discrimination. Then they can do what they like & no-one will have any legal recourse.

    1. tanith

      totally agree with yu jack they are evil PURE EVIL so is what they re doing to people how on earth do they sleep at nite and what must their wives think of them deep down they need kicking out and soon otherwise they will dream up more things to bring suffering to everyone /LABOUR is well ahead in polls n i feel they ll stay there too people are sick of this horrendous bunch of sadistic power crazy clowns

    1. Mike Sivier

      The author of the article has produced a lot of material about this, and the article itself said they were working on something that would take you through the process, step by step. So have a look at their blog site and see what you can find.

  3. Martine

    I read this and something your policy seems to forget is the other rooms in the house.
    I once was housed in a house that had a box room which fell below the legal allocated space for a child over 1 so I investigated getting moved.
    Environmental health and the council both confirmed that as my house contained a living room it did not break any rules because the council do not have to provide communal areas just sleeping quarters kitchen and bathroom. so a living room/ dining room are considered suitable living space for bedrooms therefore squashing 100% of claims.
    Lets face it if you have people sleeping in the lounge your not paying bedroom tax!!
    I sort the advice of a solicitor who confirmed that this was legal.

    1. Mike Sivier

      The law defines the number of bedrooms in any accommodation as the number stated in the tenancy agreement. So anyone trying to claim the living room is actually a bedroom would be breaking the law also. In other words, either somebody lied to you or the law has changed since then.

      1. Martine

        It’s not about how many bedrooms a house does have its about how many it could have.
        The councils obligation is NOT to provide enough bedrooms it is to provide enough cubic square space per person, on any paperwork it says how many rooms does your house have EXCLUDING bathroom and kitchen.
        Read the small print it’s there.
        Many a dining room becomes a bedroom.

      2. Mike Sivier

        My tenancy agreement has the number of bedrooms in black and white. It’s a legal document; there can be no deviation from that number. But I’m in a housing association property. Perhaps that’s different from other social housing – I don’t have the experience to know. I do know that there’s no way anyone is turning our dining room into a bedroom…
        We don’t have one.

  4. victor

    when i looked at human rights discrimination act that seemed to be a possible road to go down ,maybe it should be checked out by a human rights lawyer ,im not affected by the bedroom tax as i pay all my rent and council tax unfortunately but i still think its unfair as its not about the money its about them wanting your house for big immigrant families ,countries a joke

  5. joehalewood

    Mike – just seen this and of course no issues at all with it being re-blogged and seen by as many as possible.

    In terms of a step by step process to lodge an appeal the Govan Law Centre in Glasgow beat me to it and I am happy to recommend their bedroom tax toolkit to one and all.- see http://www.govanhilllc.com/brtax/brtax.pdf

    Section 7 of the appeal form asks for reasons or grounds of appeal and GLC provide a menu of some of these. These mainly centre on Human Rights Act grounds. To which the bedroom tax ‘loophole’ can be added. Additionally a further post of mine – http://speye.wordpress.com/2013/04/09/grounds-for-all-to-appeal-the-bedroom-tax/ – has a further 20 or so appeal grounds mostly procedural ones on HOW the decision was taken which could also be added too.

    In summary the format and some HRA grounds use the GLC bedroom tax toolkit. Then add to these with the loophole and other procedural grounds I have outlined and of course any other grounds the individual tenant has. The information is all there for every tenant and good luck to every one of you.

  6. R. S. Payne

    Social Services took my kids and now we are under-occupying our 3 bed house, my rent is now £66 a week and only get £110 a week ESA. Am sick to death of the Government f**king our lives up. We have to find a new place to live and cut all ties with our children as not only have SS taken our children they have also taken it upon themselves to keep taking us to court.

    The Government like f**king around with peoples lives and to have a “God Complex” but the fact is that nothing will be done, think MP’s WANT a pay rise yet people like David Cameron, George Osborne and their friends because THEY are millionnaires WON’T have to pay taxes, plus I bet they won’t have to pay the bedroom tax either. How many bedrooms has #10 got???

    1. Martine

      Why should a family with 3 kids live in a one room hostel while working an paying rent while you live in a 3/4 bed house with no kids?

      Get a job pay, your rent, an if you didnt hurt your kids fight hard to pull your life together and get them back.
      I wish you well

      1. Mike Sivier

        Martine, you’re addressing your comments to a person on ESA. They may not be able to get a job right now. Social Services could have taken the children on the premise that the adults in the household were physically incapable of looking after them. Then the under-occupation rule comes into play and they’re out of their home. That would be an example of the injustice caused by this legislation.

      2. pat

        “Get a job pay, your rent, an if you didnt hurt your kids fight hard to pull your life together and get them back.”

        Martine, thats a bit nasty, i cannot understand why some people automatically assume that children who have been put into care have been beat up or abused, there are many reasons why, one already stated by Mike.
        ESA is sickness benefit, just in case you were not aware, that means that R S Payne has ill health or is disabled, and just in case your not aware again, it means that R S Payne at this present time cannot work

      1. sheilablueangel

        bet she gets a state pension & winter fuel benefit , . I know this is possible coz there was a programme on TV about the super rich celebs getting state pensions etc , Peter Stringfellow & quite a few others said they got it & said they did not need it & it should be given to those who did need the money , they tried to give the money back to government , but were told they couldn’t as they were entitled to it because they had paid tax & national insurance & if they did’nt want it they should give it to charity

  7. Norman Walsh

    Only the Tories could come up with the bedroom tax hit the poor protect the bankers what a shower !!!!

  8. stocktonheathmum

    I have just been told by a Housing Benefit Team leader :-” I can confirm your tenancy has not been referred to the Rent Officer to establish the eligible rent to be used when calculating your Housing Benefit. There is a provision to refer Social Sector Housing Tenancies to the Rent Officer Service when it is felt necessary – usually due to an unreasonably high rental liability. However as your rent is not deemed not to be exceptionally high I do not feel it appropriate to refer your property for an independent decision.” Do they have to refer or do they have to have a reason i.e is this legit??

    1. Mike Sivier

      This person is trying to use one part of the legislation to hide from their responsibilities with regard to another. I’ve had experience of this kind of thing with the police. Here’s the relevant bit:

      HBR paragraph 3 of schedule 2 & (SPC) paragraph 3 of schedule 2

      Referring RSL [registered social landlord] rents to the rent officer

      4.1440 You only need to refer RSL rents to the rent officer if:

      (a) you consider that the rent is unreasonably high. A rent does not necessarily have to be referred because it is high, or higher than for similar properties. It must be unreasonably high before a referral is necessary, OR

      (b) accommodation is larger than is reasonably needed by the claimant and others who may occupy the accommodation, including those who pay rent to the claimant.

      In these cases you must have regard to all the circumstances and housing options available to the individual household.

      Source: HB Reg para 3 of Sch 2 & (SPC) para 3 of Sch 2

      You’ll see that the “usually due to a high rental liability” bit is covered in (a) above. However, that by no means rules out (b). If they are saying they are withdrawing a proportion of your housing benefit due to underoccupation, then they are saying that your accommodation “is larger than is reasonably needed” and you can demand that it be referred.

      Kick up a fuss about it if need be. Get your councillor involved and whichever council committee deals with social housing. Call in the press. Make sure as many people know about this as possible.

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