Here is a First Tier Tribunal decision on a bedroom tax appeal that overturns the landlord’s assertions on bedroom numbers. It is a Scottish case, but nothing turns on that. I’m grateful to Joe Halewood for bringing this to light (though we differ on its significance).
While the decision is very much on the unusual facts of the property in which the Appellant lives, there are some interesting points of potentially broader application.
The decision accepts that it is reasonable for the benefit authority to rely on the landlord’s description of the property. But, significantly, the landlord’s description is not determinative.
The FTT is (at least this Tribunal is) quite happy to take on the task of determining whether a ‘bedroom’ as described by the landlord actually is a bedroom, and to replace the landlord’s description of the property with its own. In this instance, from 3 bedrooms to one.
Historic use of the room is considered in terms of whether the room ever was, or could reasonably be used as a bedroom.
The physical properties of the ‘bedroom’ are also considered, including size, useable floor space, ceiling height, light etc..
While this is only an FTT decision, and not binding at all, the approach does raise the interesting prospect of, for example, those with adapted properties where a bedroom has been physically changed in purpose, or those with small box rooms, making successful appeals which overturn the landlord’s own designation of bedrooms.
It also suggests that the issue of ‘what is a bedroom’ might well be preoccupying both the FTTs and the Upper Tribunal for some time to come.
For the actual decision, see these images. It is not a long read. (a PDF version is here)