In an announcement made just hours before much of the industry started its Christmas break, the government has clarified its guidance on minimum room sizes.
Since October this year, rooms used for sleeping by one person over 10 years old have had to be at least 6.51 square metres, and those slept in by two people over 10 years old will have had to at least 10.22 square metres.
Rooms slept in by children of 10 years and younger have had to be at least 4.64 square metres.
The Residential Landlords Association had raised concerns that the regulations could have led to landlords being in breach of the law where a pregnant tenant gave birth.
“Whilst the RLA believes that tenants should never face the dangers of overcrowded accommodation, it was concerned that the changes could have seen councils required to take action against landlords where a tenant gave birth and as a result there were two people in a room sized for one. A landlord who sought to evict in this scenario would be carrying out unlawful discrimination” says the association.
However the government has now cleared up the potential confusion with a guidance note issued on Friday afternoon.
The guidance says that in instances where a tenant has given birth to a child since moving into a House of Multiple Occupation, there is an expectation that local authorities will not be acting in the public interest if they commence a prosecution.
David Smith, RLA policy director, says: “We warmly welcome this new guidance. It reflects considerable work between the RLA and the government in addressing serious concerns about the consequences of the room size changes.
“The government has clearly listened to our concerns and this document should provide much greater assurances to landlords and tenants alike.”