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Students can cope living in smaller rooms, judge rules

Article by Giles Inman on Feb 12, 2016 View in browser

Students can cope living in smaller rooms, judge rules

Is it lawful for an HMO licence to restrict the use of a bedroom to a particular category of occupier, such as students?

Under HMO licensing in Nottingham, the Council maintains bedroom floor sizes need to be at least 8 sqm. However there is a caveat, where the ceiling height is less than 5 feet (approximately 1.53 metres) due to, for example, a sloping roof / ceiling this area shall be excluded when calculating the overall floor area requirements in bedrooms.

Most Councils in England work to a minimum bedroom size of at least 6.5 sqm and do not factor in deductions for sloping roofs.

This week a Nottingham Landlord has successfully defended the decision of the Lower Residential Property Tribunal (First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) at the Upper Tribunal in London after Nottingham City Council appealed the lower tribunal decision.

The case was around the refusal by Nottingham City Council to allow an attic room measuring 9.29 sqm to be occupied by a student as bedroom. The Council maintained that a sloping roof took the room size down to 5.85 sqm which was below their self-imposed minimum bedroom size standard of 8 sqm. The Council argued that it would be difficult for the student to make their bed and have a desk in the room. These arguments were dismissed by the Lower Tribunal and a ruling permitted the landlord to rent the room as a bedroom. The Council immediately appealed this decision at the Upper Tribunal and lost.

The Judge accepted the landlord’s arguments that there were sufficient compensating features in the property to make the room a bedroom suitable for student occupation. He acknowledged and accepted there was a built in wardrobe in the bedroom and the bed could be pulled out to be make and there was sufficient room for storage and a desk under the sloping roof. Finally, the judge dismissed the Councils argument that student sharers experienced less social cohesion than a family household and that is why the Council regulated the bedroom sizes in Student HMOs.  

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