If You Feel You’re Living in Overcrowded Circumstances, here is What You Can Do.

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As of the housing act of 1985, overcrowded living has been defined as when the number of people sleeping in a space or room breaches the standard that has been specified by law.

Today, we’re going to be taking a look at what the issue of overcrowding really is, and what you can do if you feel you’re being affected by it.

Before delving into options you have if you’re faced with overcrowding, it makes sense to take a look what the laws on space actually are:

  • There are three definitions – room standard, space standard and bedroom standard.
  • Room Standard is based on the number of people who can sleep in one room, and their gender.
  • Married or co-habiting couples and children under the age of ten are ignored in terms of room standard, as they can sleep in the same space without issue according to law.
  • This standard does not limit people of the same gender sleeping in the same space.
  • Space Standard, goes off the actual size of the property itself. It’s calculated in two different ways.
  • The first is by bedrooms – which ranges from a one bedroom being appropriate for two people, to a four bedroom being appropriate for 7 ½ people.
  • The second is by square foot, where a 110 square feet room is deemed acceptable for two people, whereas a 70-89 foot room is for one person.
  • Children under ten count as a ½ person in space standard, and babies under one year don’t count. Likewise, rooms under 50 square feet are ignored, and rooms are only counted if they are living rooms and bedrooms.
  • The third standard Bedroom Standard is slightly different, however, because it’s not an actual legal definition of overcrowding. Instead, it’s something that local authorities use when assessing whether or not an applicant is living in overcrowded conditions.
  • Generally speaking, this means one bedroom for: each adult couple; another adult aged twenty one plus; two children/young adults of the same sex from age 10 to 20; and two children regardless of gender up to the age of ten.
  • So that’s a very quick round up of what the space standards currently are in the UK – however there is more in depth information available online if you do need to find out more.

    So, if you think you’re living in overcrowded circumstances, what are your options?

If you feel your home is overcrowded, you could apply for council housing:

  • Because the rules differ from area to area, depending on where you live your place on the waiting list for council housing will vary, meaning that if there isn’t many larger properties in the area, the council could struggle to rehome you.
  • Sometimes in response to this, councils will have to rehouse families in two homes – even if just temporarily.
  • Before applying, check the laws in your local area. If your home is considered to be illegally overcrowded, then the council have to rehome you by law.

Should you already live in council housing, then you could apply for a transfer to a larger property:

  • Usually there is a waiting list for this, but if your home is deemed as overcrowded, you’ll go down as priority.
  • Another option, is to swap homes with another housing association or council tenant in the UK – this is called mutual homes exchange.
  • You’re not likely to be allowed to do this, however, if the property you want to move to is an inappropriate size for you in either direction, or yours is inappropriate for the other tenant to move into.

If you can afford it, private renting is an option:

  • You can still claim benefits and universal credit to help pay the rent, but there are caps on this dependant on the number of rooms in the property.
  • There are rules that limit what you’re entitled to, so check these out.

Finally, if none of these options are viable, you could make a homelessness application:

  • An environmental health officer from the local council may come to assess the situation.
  • However, even if it’s overcrowded by law, you aren’t necessarily entitled to this help.
  • Likewise, the council could deem you to be applying as “intentionally homeless” if you leave the home before the application is decided on.

If you feel you’re living in overcrowded circumstances, seek help.

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