Friday, 2 May 2014

First Tier Tribunal rules that dining rooms were not 'under-occupied' bedrooms for Glasgow tenants

Govan Law Centre (GLC) has been successful in arguing that tenants who used a 'bedroom' as a dining room should not be subject to an under-occupation (commonly known as 'the bedroom tax') deduction from their housing benefit entitlement.

In the case of 'E', the tenant has used her downstairs 'bedroom' as a dining room since the commencement of her tenancy in 2007. It had never been used as a bedroom. Her kitchen was too small to be used for dining purposes.

The appellant's solicitor, Mike Dailly of GLC, argued that as the term 'bedroom' was not defined in the Housing Benefit Regulations the word had to be interpreted in relation to its ordinary meaning, and in particular having regard to the actual facts and circumstances of the appellant's case, including her actual useage.

The respondent, Glasgow City Council, argued that regard should be had to the fact that three of the property's rooms could be occupied as bedrooms, notwithstanding on the evidence the appellant had not chosen to occupy one of them as such.

The Tribunal found that 'The appellant's use of the downstairs room as a dining room is long established and reasonably necessary for her use of the property', and allowed the tenant's appeal.

In the case of 'L', the tenant was the sole occupant of a 4 bedroomed property since 1997 and had always used the downstairs 'bedroom' as a dining room and as a storage space for her electric mobility scooter, manual wheelchair and walker.  The Tribunal found on the evidence that 'the use of the downstairs room as a dining room and also for storage of [the appellant's] disability equipment is long established and reasonably necessary for her use of the property', and allowed the tenant's appeal. 

Housing benefit would be backdated from 1 April 2013.  Copies of the Decision Notice in both cases are available as a PDF here.
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