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  • FIRST POST
    spursfatboy
    Challenging Council Rent!
    • #1
    • 15th Nov 12, 9:23 AM
    Challenging Council Rent! 15th Nov 12 at 9:23 AM
    Hi,

    Desperately looking for help on behalf of a friend.

    They are a council tenant, in receipt of benefits (not sure which ones other than child benefit).

    Is there any way that she can challenge the council on the rent they set for the property. She has a 3 bedroom house (bedrooms all upsairs).

    She has just been told that from April she will have to pay 14% of her rent for a 'seperate' dining room which the council claim is a potential 4th bedroom.

    Having looked at rents in the local area, hers is one of the highest, being almost double that of a 6 bed property within a one mile radius!

    the dining room is seperated from the kitchin by a door and in its present state is not seperated from the front room (there used to be double doors diving the two).

    My questions are:

    If the council are insisting on calling the dining room a bedroom for the purposes of rent, should this room be entirely divided by a wall from the front room, with the council carryin out the works?

    If this was to be done, would there not be a fire risk of having a bedroom next to a kitchin, no other way into the room other than through the kitchin and therefore no other way out in an emergency such as a fire?

    If the council do not divide the room correctly or adequately provide a safe exit route can the rental amount be challenged?

    Who could my friend talk to about challening the rent or having the works done to make it a 4 bed?

    Sorry for waffling on but I would really appreciate any help or guidance on this subject.

    Many thanks

    SFB
Page 1
  • ILW
    • #2
    • 15th Nov 12, 9:28 AM
    • #2
    • 15th Nov 12, 9:28 AM
    She can always end her tenancy and go private if she does not agree with the level of rent.
  • Dunroamin
    • #3
    • 15th Nov 12, 10:41 AM
    • #3
    • 15th Nov 12, 10:41 AM
    How many people are there living in the house?
  • mazza111
    • #4
    • 15th Nov 12, 10:51 AM
    • #4
    • 15th Nov 12, 10:51 AM
    It's about the number of people living in the house compared to how many bedrooms there are.

    I also had a dining room, next to the kitchen, which was classed as a bedroom. Nothing illegal about it afaik.

    This is something the government brought in to encourage people to move into smaller properties to suit the size of their families.
    4 Stones and 0 pounds or 25.4kg lighter
    • maninthestreet
    • By maninthestreet 15th Nov 12, 1:49 PM
    • 15,359 Posts
    • 13,924 Thanks
    maninthestreet
    • #5
    • 15th Nov 12, 1:49 PM
    • #5
    • 15th Nov 12, 1:49 PM
    It's about the number of people living in the house compared to how many bedrooms there are.

    I also had a dining room, next to the kitchen, which was classed as a bedroom. Nothing illegal about it afaik.

    This is something the government brought in to encourage people to move into smaller properties to suit the size of their families.
    Originally posted by mazza111
    In the case presented here, the 'dining room' is not a separate room at all.
    "You were only supposed to blow the bl**dy doors off!!"
  • CAB Wyre Forest representative
    • #6
    • 15th Nov 12, 2:11 PM
    • #6
    • 15th Nov 12, 2:11 PM
    hello spursfatboy

    From next year the rules regarding housing benefits and rent are changing. One of the changes is that housing benefit will be paid on the number of bedrooms that a person needs for their family unit. For instance a family with one child would only need a two bed roomed property. If the rent for a two bed property is for £100 per week and you are renting a three bed property at £125 per week then you will be paid Housing Benefit based on £100 per week and you will need to pay the extra £25 per week from your income.

    With regard to a dining room we would suggest that your friend questions the council on the definition of a bedroom and possibly make a formal complaint or appeal about the assessment. At some point there will have to be a workable definition if there are to be appeals although we have not found one.

    If the decision is correct then your friend can presumably take in a lodger or as others have suggested move to somewhere that they can afford
    ďOfficial CAB Representative
    I am an official representative of CAB. MSE has given permission for me to post in response to questions on the CAB Board. You can see my name on the companies with permission to post list. If you believe Iíve broken any rules please report my post to forumteam@moneysavingexpert.com as usual"
  • mazza111
    • #7
    • 15th Nov 12, 6:37 PM
    • #7
    • 15th Nov 12, 6:37 PM
    In the case presented here, the 'dining room' is not a separate room at all.
    Originally posted by maninthestreet
    Guess that would depend on who removed the door? Has it been done for easier access by the tenant? Mine didn't have a door on it either, but it was still classed as a 3 bedroom property.
    4 Stones and 0 pounds or 25.4kg lighter
  • spursfatboy
    • #8
    • 21st Nov 12, 3:41 AM
    • #8
    • 21st Nov 12, 3:41 AM
    Hi, thanks for all the replies and apologies for the numerous spelling mistakes, which I've only just noticed.

    There is currently the tenant and her two children aged 14 & 5 one girl one boy.

    With regards the dining room/4th bedroom the double doors were taken out by one of the previous tenants and were not in place when she moved in.

    She is looking to exchange homes through the homeswapper scheme, however the rent is proving to be a deal breaker wih potential moves falling down owing to the level of rent.

    SHe is continuing to try and find out from the council their definiation of a dining room and how it applies to her property but unfortunately they are proving to be somewhat elusive.

    Thanks again for your replies.

    SFB
  • spursfatboy
    • #9
    • 21st Nov 12, 3:56 AM
    • #9
    • 21st Nov 12, 3:56 AM
    Just to add, I didn't assume that it was illegal, but queried how it can be considered safe to have a bedroom next to a kitchen where the only entry/exit is through the kitchen (assuming a permanent wall was put up between living room and dining room) if there was to be a fire in the kitchen that bedroom would offer no means of escape.

    Also, to go private would be to give up much of the 'security' she has at present in terms of keeping a roof over her childrens heads.

    She moved into the property as a 3 bed home which she was entitled to, with herself and two children of age and gender differences.

    Once again thanks for all your replies.

    SFB
    • Fire Fox
    • By Fire Fox 21st Nov 12, 7:09 AM
    • 25,157 Posts
    • 29,400 Thanks
    Fire Fox
    Can't you get out of the window in the event of a fire? Does sound like the council think there is a partition between the living and dining areas that is not in fact in place.
    Declutterbug-in-progress.⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️
  • spursfatboy
    Hi, having had a quick look at the fire regs, if they block the wall up to create the room, thus creating an 'inner room' the windows are above the height recommended for a safe exit. Also the only person who's going to be getting out of them, because of the way they hinge is going to be a toddler. So the windows are too high, but also crucially i think, far too narrow to offer a real escape route.

    This is proving to be a bit of a conundrum, do the council convert the room properly to make it a usable bedroom and do so within fire regs, which I assume is going to cost them money, or do they accept that it's a 3 bed and the rent, in comparison to properties in the local area which and offer more bedrooms, is very high.

    For example the rent in question is £240 + pw for a post war house. A 6 bed house on a parallel road is rented at c£150 pw and is a period property with bedrooms of a far bigger size.

    I guess she will have to wait and see.
  • Hmm71
    That is a very high rent for a council property! I pay far less than that, renting privately, for a three bedroomed place with a garden and garage.

    Don't you love the way other posters have said "she can just move" as if everyone has a month's rent, a month's deposit and moving costs sitting in the bank?

    I'd suggest your friend contacts her local branch of SHELTER and asks them for advice on challenging the rent. They aren't just there for the homeless, they can advise on all aspects of housing.
    Last edited by Hmm71; 22-11-2012 at 8:03 AM.
    • Sharon87
    • By Sharon87 22nd Nov 12, 12:22 PM
    • 3,731 Posts
    • 3,148 Thanks
    Sharon87
    Can you take photos of it, the entrance to the room and where it is in the house, and send that to the council explaining that it can't be used as a potential bedroom without conforming to fire regulations - like making a new lower window.

    Pictures will help them understand what the room is like.
    • Fire Fox
    • By Fire Fox 22nd Nov 12, 6:51 PM
    • 25,157 Posts
    • 29,400 Thanks
    Fire Fox
    Don't you love the way other posters have said "she can just move" as if everyone has a month's rent, a month's deposit and moving costs sitting in the bank?
    Originally posted by Hmm71
    Council can provide a 'paper bond'. If the rent is that different any costs of moving would be made back the first month.
    Declutterbug-in-progress.⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️
  • spursfatboy
    The rent is ridiculous in comparison to others in the area. She is grateful for the home she has but is also stuck in a position where come April she will be in a difficult position, based on the house being classed as a four bed. Also, trying to swap out is not easy as potential swappers view the property (those that don't baulk at the rent) and see that the '4th bedroom' is in fact a dining room. As mentioned going private is too risky in terms of stability for her and her children, she wants to provide a stable home environment.

    The council have been round to inspect the house, having done so prior to her moving in, yet have still, somehow come to this conclusion. Thank you for suggesting Shelter, I will let her know and hopefully they will be able to help or offer guidance/direction.

    Is the 'paper bond' linked to finding a property to rent on the private market?

    Thanks again for all your replies and helpful suggestions.

    SFB
  • Dunroamin
    hello spursfatboy

    From next year the rules regarding housing benefits and rent are changing. One of the changes is that housing benefit will be paid on the number of bedrooms that a person needs for their family unit. For instance a family with one child would only need a two bed roomed property. If the rent for a two bed property is for £100 per week and you are renting a three bed property at £125 per week then you will be paid Housing Benefit based on £100 per week and you will need to pay the extra £25 per week from your income.
    Originally posted by CAB Wyre Forest representative
    I thought that for HB you had to pay an additional 14% for an extra bedroom, rather than the difference between the 2 bed and the 3 bed rent.

    "The cut will be a fixed percentage of the Housing Benefit eligible rent. The Government has said that this will be set at 14% for one extra bedroom and 25% for two or more extra bedrooms." National Housing Federation
  • lighting up the chalice
    I thought that for HB you had to pay an additional 14% for an extra bedroom, rather than the difference between the 2 bed and the 3 bed rent.

    "The cut will be a fixed percentage of the Housing Benefit eligible rent. The Government has said that this will be set at 14% for one extra bedroom and 25% for two or more extra bedrooms." National Housing Federation
    Originally posted by Dunroamin
    That is correct. I'm sure the CAB rep will clarify the earlier post.
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