This is a rather unusual bedroom tax First Tier Tribunal decision from Islington. (Decision notice. Also on the FTT decisions page.)
There was one additional room, classed as a bedroom by the landlord, Islington Council. The tenant appealed on the basis that the condition of the room through disrepair (or rather, I understand through condensation damp and mould) meant that it was not suited to use as a bedroom.
Remarkably, and despite parallel disrepair proceedings, the room remained in this state and there was expert evidence before the adjourned FTT hearing.
The FTT concluded that, at the time of the HB decision, “the state of the disputed room was so poor that it was not reasonable to expect it to be used as a bedroom”.
Now, as someone who does a fair bit of disrepair work, this does raise a question or two or three. For example, does the state of the room have to be something that the landlord is liable for? (So, damp penetration, yes. Condensation damp and mould no, except in an EPA prosecution perhaps.) Clearly it can’t be something for which the tenant is responsible (which may be an issue in some condensation situations and may actually be an issue for expert evidence!).
And when does this state have to be in being? This appeal suggests at the time of the HB/bedroom tax decision, which is appropriate for such an appeal. But what if the room is returned to a reasonable state afterwards, even soon afterwards. Can the Benefit Authority make a fresh decision as soon as the room is in a condition where ‘it would be reasonable to expect it to be used as a bedroom’? Can there be rooms slipping in and out of suitability to be used as a bedroom, as this would imply?