03/08/2014

Bedroom tax ‘lead case’ in Upper Tribunal?

Some bits on the bedroom tax and room size

First, a new FTT decision from Rochdale (Reasons here ). A room of 64 square feet was too small for a lodger and had not been used as a bedroom since the appellant’s son moved out in 2010. The room was instead used to store the appellant’s belongings, which she could not reasonably store in the loft due to her medical conditions. Also cites Bolton MBC v BF – the UT definition of a bedroom case – to find the room was not a bedroom because not used as such.

Secondly, (and thanks Joe) I have been sent a copy of a letter staying an appeal to the Upper Tribunal, which states that all appeals on the issue of room size and use are stayed pending determination of a ‘lead case’ and any further appeal in that case. This is case CH/153/2014.

Does anyone know this case and whether it is one of the FTT decisions we already know about? I am presuming that the claimant is represented and that this is one reason the case has been chosen. If they aren’t, they need to be, right away!

Giles Peaker is a solicitor and partner in the Housing and Public Law team at Anthony Gold Solicitors in South London. You can find him on Linkedin and on Twitter. Known as NL round these parts.

31 Comments

  1. Carol Laidlaw

    I’m not sure that this letter means that all FTT appeals about room size and use are stayed pending the lead case being heard. I have just had three of my latest bedroom tax appeals given hearing dates this month (though one of those is based on a different issue.) Also, as far as I understand it, for all appeals of a certain type to be stayed, the President of the Tribunals Service has to issue a direction. (I was told this by a long-serving district judge at a previous appeal hearing I attended, I can only assume he was right.)

    Reply
    • Giles Peaker

      No, it is not FTT appeals being stayed, it is UT appeals from the FTT.

      Reply
  2. Sue Kinder

    I won my first tier in March. One bedroom on room size and one for usage. My case has been sent for appeal to Upper tribunal and has been “stayed” (presumably pending CH/13/2014) I am concerned that the people involved haven’t got legal representatation in order to have the best chance in winning in the Upper Tier and therefore not being in favour of the other “stayed” appeals.

    Reply
    • Giles Peaker

      Sue, We don’t know if they are represented or not. I would guess they will be, as the UT would want the lead case to have the best shot at being argued fully. We shall see.

      Reply
  3. Sue Kinder

    Do we know a date for this UT? I have heard September but not specific date. Is there any way to find out just how many of these “stayed” appeals there are to date with the same reason of appeal?

    Reply
  4. joehalewood

    I have taken a number of successful FTT cases and many of them are stayed due to the lead case. I have also been sent many other notices of cases being stayed on this too.

    Very interestingly I now know the lead case and there is no room usage element to it

    Reply
  5. Robert Claridge

    The tenant in question is a member of the Wirral Campaign against the Bedroom Tax. We have solictors – Jackson and Canter – and we have (it seems) pro bono counsel from Garden Court North. Pro bono because the legal aid award was £255 and exceptional funding was not available through the Public Law Project apparently because it did not regard the case as of sufficient significance.

    Reply
    • Giles Peaker

      PLP don’t actually administer or grant exceptional funding! They just help out with making some applications. An application to the LAA could still be made! I thought funding under a certificate was available for UT appeals?

      Reply
  6. Paul Callaghan

    I am active in South Wales against the bedroom tax and we have a number of Upper tier tribunal appeals coming up. We are unable to get legal representation so any advice would be appreciated

    Reply
  7. Amy Bentley

    I’m at a tribunal in Doncaster on my box room. My home has been seen by the enviromental health department they have verbally said it is fit for 3.5 persons.My granddaughter and I live there I’m representing myself and would appreciate any advice from anybody that has experience of any similar situation.

    Reply
    • Debbie

      Hi Amy. What does your box room measure? You must measure it skirting to skirting. NOT, wall to wall. You have to take off the door opening and radiator. it’s useable floor space. have your council been out to measure the room?? Look on here at the tribunal decisions and include any that apply to your situation. Send copies to your council, to be included for your tribunal.

      Reply
  8. Amy Bentley

    Got my letter today from tribunal good news two of my rooms are under 6.5sq metres therefore a 1bedroom property. As my home is a chalet style building with sloping ceilings I would recommend that everybody going through this process takes photographic evidence.As I’m residing in north lincs I expect them to refute this decision.The most annoying part Is we are all paying their legal representation and not allowed any on behalf of ourselves.

    Reply
  9. J2

    Hi, I won my FTT appeal in July. It was on the basis that I receive a council tax reduction because my second bedroom (which is very small and wierd shape) is used for my disabled equipment for educational and phyiso purposes. My local authority is my landlord. The judge ruled that as my landlord had already stated that my property was 1 bedroomed through the application of the council tax reduction, they can’t apply the spare room subsidy because there is only 1 bedroom.

    I have now received a letter stating that DWP & the local authority have had leave to appeal to UT.

    Reply
  10. Amy Bentley

    After the FTT said my home is 1bedroomed,my landlord is still ignoring the ruling and wanting the arrears!!!
    Also applied to the fair rents they reduced rent (based on three bedrooms)now got documentation at upper tribunal and my scum landlord have amalgamated both cases !!!
    WOULD ADVISE ALL COUNCIL AND HOUSING ASSOCIATION TENNANTS TO REQUEST RENT REVIEW
    I’m expecting an even lower rent and the decision should be legally binding. I think the fair rent offices should know what a bedroom is ? Then HB and Landlords would be totally out of the equasion they are both financially involved.

    Reply
    • Giles Peaker

      Amy

      If you got a rent review, you must be a housing association tenant. Council tenants can’t do that.

      Do you mean that your housing association landlord is still after arrears from before? They will be, as the FTT deals with housing benefit and that has to be paid by the council. Your landlord is not bound by the FTT. I don’t see how a housing association could join a rent review appeal to a housing benefit appeal. They aren’t a party to the HB appeal.

      Reply
      • Amy Bentley

        I am a HA tennant
        The landlord took me to court as I refused to pay bedroom tax when I believed my home was smaller
        I attended court and was asked to supply photos and measurements that the landlord could also do.
        I returned to court and the second judge said to attend a tribunal.
        The judge stated my home was 1bedroomed.
        It is my landlord that wants the monies.
        My rent was increased as a 3bedroomed home before the judges change and reduced.
        Both cases are amalgamated and at an upper tribunal in London.
        CAB have given me the name of a solicitor and he could not understand why as he will not accept HB and does not do legal aid.
        But he was honest and said I perhaps should try Howells (Sheffield/Hull) so I was intending to contact them tommorrow.

        Reply
        • Giles Peaker

          Amy

          Sorry, this still isn’t making sense. Your landlord wasn’t charging you the bedroom tax, the council were deducting it from your housing benefit. If you have gone to a tribunal on the bedroom tax, that is against the council.

          Going to the rent review tribunal was a separate matter against your landlord on the level of rent, not housing benefit.

          I’m still not sure how these got joined. They should be in separate Upper Tribunals!

          And then it sounds like there were possession proceedings for rent arrears?

          Good luck with finding a solicitor, but if it is an Upper Tribunal housing benefit case, there are only a few places that have legal aid contracts for that work. I don’t think Howells do – but worth talking to them. Not sure if the Law Centres Federation cover Sheffield/Hull for Upper Tribunal benefit appeals. ( http://www.lawcentres.org.uk/our-work/welfare-benefits-upper-tribunal-service ).

        • Amybentley

          Thank you for the speedy reply.
          It was for outstanding rent,it was the extra I was expected to pay as my home was deemed as having extra empty bedrooms.
          I have only been to court and tribunals with the landlord,I even had difficulty getting the paperwork to attend a tribunal that the judge ordered.

        • Giles Peaker

          OK, so you have not actually challenged the bedroom tax deduction to your housing benefit? That would be something to consider.

          You should be able to get legal aid for possession proceedings, but not for the rent assessment tribunal, or Upper Tribunal, I’m afraid.

        • Amybentley

          Thank you will phone housing benefit tommorrow, cannot remember if I’ve already spoken to them kept getting told it’s up to my landlord,I would have thought the judge,FTT and landlord would not have allowed everything to go this far if HB could have stopped this dilemma I

        • Giles Peaker

          Amy

          The courts and tribunal can only go on the case in front of them. They can’t turn a possession claim into a housing benefit tribunal, or a rent assessment into a housing benefit tribunal.

          The Council will argue against it – they will say the landlord has said it is a three bed. So you may need to go to the benefits version of the First Tier Tribunal. Look carefully at this Upper Tribunal case on whether a room can be a bedroom – http://nearlylegal.co.uk/2014/12/elephant-bedroom/

        • Amybentley

          Chalet style house,both rooms under 6.5 sloping ceilings,doors open externally,other room larger FTT said 1bedroom,2persons not three bedroom. I think this is due to the size and layout of the rooms.Have not got a clue what is what just been honest and followed instructions from judges presented evidence,and tried not to be to ill !!!

        • Giles Peaker

          You should present HB with the rent assessment tribunal findings.

        • Amybentley

          Thank you will try and do what you advise.

        • Amybentley

          HB are not interested !!! Fair rents say £86.Part of the decision is based on the facts of comparison all private landlords provide carpets and curtains EVERY HOUSING ASSOCIATION tennant is entitled to a reduction in rent !!! This equates to approx £15 weekly and lowers bedroom tax the savings for HB would be colossal so why is this not being implemented !! Because my land lords the appellant I’m expected to pay £600 for legal help at an upper tribunal,Can anybody help or should I try the newspapers and shame the scum landlords and HB

        • Giles Peaker

          Amy – I have no idea what you are talking about, I’m afraid. What decision, in what tribunal are you talking about? Email me the decision if you can.

        • Amy Bentley

          I had a fair rent officer visit as I thought my rent increase from the HA was at £99 weekly too expensive. The officer lowered the rent to £86 weekly. My land lord has applied to the upper tribunal disagreeing with the decision,because I applied and the HA are contesting I’m not entitled to any financial legal help. The document I have now I do not understand therefore on Monday I’m going back to the CAB and hopefully they can help !!
          On a better note I now have legal representation if the HA decides to challenge the decision that my home is 1bedroomed and not 3!!

  11. Debbie

    Hi Amy, it sounds as though you are going through a lot. Have you been in touch with your local CAB for any advise??

    Regarding your Housing Benefit and the ‘Bedroom Tax’.
    You HAVE to put in a formal BT appeal. To the HB dept. of your council.
    You, MUST tell them that, IF they don’t exempt you. Then you WILL go to Tribunal.
    Don’t deal with them in any other way, than in writing. You must have a ‘paper trail’. So, you have everything in writing for proof.
    This appeal, has nothing to do with your Landlord and is a separate issue and must be dealt with, as such.
    Since the UT. You do have to go into as much detail as possible. Photos are a very good idea. Health and safety. Room height. etc.. There are Facebook groups that could help you. Including, RECLAIM.

    Reply
  12. Debbie

    Do I have this correct, that you say your Granddaughter lives with you?? So, she must have one of the ‘bedrooms’?? So, that leaves 1 room, that you use for disability equipment? So, you could also appeal on room usage as well?
    I don’t suppose you have an overnight carer??

    Reply

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Rightsnet discussion forum | bedroom tax in the upper tribunal - […] http://nearlylegal.co.uk/2014/08/bedroom-tax-lead-case-in-upper-tribunal/ […]
  2. The Upper Tribunal bedroom tax lead case CH/153/2014 here | SPeye Joe (Welfarewrites) - […] sent a copy of this UT Direction to the Nearly Legal site which was acknowledged who stated in a…

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