October 24th, 2022 by James Goudie KC

In ROWE v HARINGEY LBC (2022) EWCA Civ 1370 the Council refused an application under Section 184(1) of the Housing Act 1996, on the ground of overcrowding, for housing assistance, by an applicant who lived with her two young children in a house in multiple occupation (HMO). They had exclusive use of one bedroom. They shared with four other adults a communal kitchen and bathroom. The Council considered that she was snot overcrowded according to the room and space standards in Sections 325 and 326 of the Housing Act 1985 and that it was reasonable for her to continue to occupy under Section 175(3) of the 1996 Act.

The Court of Appeal held that the overcrowding provisions do not apply to a HMO as a whole.. They apply to an occupant’s separate accommodation within the HMO. A HMO as a whole does not come within the definition of “dwelling” in Section 343 of the 1985 Act. The room and space standards had to be applied to each of the separate units of accommodation within the HMO.

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