January 26, 2024 3:11 pm

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Nikka Sulton

The UK is grappling with a housing crisis where a substantial number of individuals find it financially challenging to enter the property market, given the hefty initial costs involved. Many are caught in a cycle of high rental payments, despite the potential long-term savings that come with property ownership and mortgage payments. This predicament highlights the urgent need for solutions to address affordability issues and create pathways for more individuals to become homeowners.

While there is a growing consensus that increasing the housing supply is crucial to alleviating this problem, concerns arise about the effectiveness of such measures without proper regulations. The fear is that new properties, instead of catering to those in need, might be swiftly acquired by individuals who have already paid off their mortgages, primarily using these acquisitions to expand their investment portfolios. Addressing this challenge requires a comprehensive approach that considers both the quantity and equitable distribution of housing options.


Which rooms count as bedrooms?

Rooms eligible for sleeping under legal regulations:

  • Bedrooms
  • Living rooms and dining rooms
  • Box rooms, studies, or home offices
  • A large kitchen (considerations of safety and reasonableness apply, especially if young children are involved)


Rooms not deemed suitable for sleeping purposes:

  • Bathrooms and toilets
  • Small kitchens and utility rooms
  • Any room that is less than 4.65 square meters (50 square feet)


Rule 1: Sharing a room

Overcrowded Home Criteria:

  • Two individuals sharing a room.
  • Not a couple.
  • Different sexes.



  • Children under the age of 10.
  • They can share a room with anyone.


Example: Room Sharing

A couple resides with their 12-year-old girl and 9-year-old boy in a 2-bedroom flat with a living room. Currently, the children share a room.

As the boy reaches 10, an option is for him to share with his dad, and the girl with her mum. Alternatively, the parents could use the living room for sleeping, allowing each child to have their own room.


Rule 2: Number of rooms

Overcrowding Assessment: A Practical Guide

If your home lacks enough rooms for your family or household, you may be experiencing overcrowding. Begin by tallying up your bedrooms, living rooms, and other sleep-worthy spaces. Exclude any rooms smaller than 4.65 square meters (50 square feet).

Next, determine the number of individuals residing there. Exclude temporary occupants like visiting family members. According to this rule:


  • Individuals aged 10 or above count as 1 person.
  • Children aged 1 to 9 are considered half a person.
  • Babies under 1 year old are not counted at all.


Note that this differs from the rule about room sharing, where children under 10 are not counted.


Table: Number of rooms for sleeping in

Number of rooms Highest number of people
1 2
2 3
3 5
4 7.5
5 10


Example: number of rooms

Avoiding Overcrowding: A Practical Scenario

Consider a couple with two children under 10 residing in a one-bedroom flat with a living room. Currently, the family is not deemed overcrowded, counting as three people. They utilize the living room as an additional sleeping space.

However, as one child approaches the age of 10, the dynamics change. With the child now considered 3.5 people, but the family still having only two rooms for sleep, overcrowding becomes a concern.


Rule 3: Size of the rooms

Avoiding Overcrowding: Assessing Room Size

Overcrowding isn’t just about the number of rooms; it’s also about their size. Focus on measuring bedrooms, living rooms, and other potential sleeping spaces. Disregard any room smaller than 4.65 square metres (50 square feet).


To measure the rooms accurately:

  1. Equip Yourself: Grab a tape measure and a calculator.
  2. Metric Measurements: Use meters for easier calculations.
  3. Length and Width: Measure the length and width of each room.
  4. Calculate Floor Space: Multiply the length by the width to determine the floor space in square meters.

Table: Floor space of each room

Floor space in square metres (square feet in brackets) Highest number of people allowed in each room
10.22 square metres (110 square feet) or more 2
8.36-10.21 square metres (90-109 square feet) 1.5
6.5-8.35 square metres (70-89 square feet) 1
4.65-6.5 square metres (50-69 square feet) 0.5
Less than 4.65 square metres (50 square feet) 0


Count how many people live in your home

Follow these straightforward guidelines:


  • Individuals aged 10 or above count as 1 person.
  • Children between 1 and 9 years old count as half a person.
  • Babies under 1 year old don’t contribute to the count.


Verify the maximum allowed occupants for each room. If the total number of people residing exceeds this limit, your home is considered overcrowded.


Example: size of rooms

Consider this scenario:

  • A couple with two teenage boys and a 9-year-old girl.
  • Residing in a 2-bedroom flat with a living room.
  • Room sizes: Living room and one bedroom – 11 square metres each. Smaller bedroom – 5 square metres.


Currently, the family is not overcrowded. The girl can occupy the smaller bedroom, counting as half a person. However, upon turning 10, they would be overcrowded, with a count of 5 people. The smaller bedroom’s size accommodates only 4.5 people as per regulations.


What you can do if you’re overcrowded

If your home is overcrowded under any of these rules you could:

  • get priority on the council housing register
  • ask for a transfer if you already have a housing association or council home

You could count as homeless if you are overcrowded and there are other serious problems with your home. For example, damp or dangerous conditions.



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Challenges of Owning A Second Home

What insurance is needed for a buy-to-let property?

What is the difference between remortgage and refinance UK?

Buy Refurb Refinance Rent (BRRR) Explained

Section 24 Tax Guide for Airbnb Hosts

Can you make money investing in property?

Section 24 Effect on BTL Property

How do you calculate BRRRR?

How do I start a property rental business in the UK?

How to add value to your rental property

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