Tenants who claim spare rooms have never been used as bedrooms could escape the bedroom tax following a tribunal decision, a top law firm have said. Blind lawyer, Surinder Lall, won a tribunal decision against Westminster Council this week, after claiming the room was used for storage of medical equipment not as a bedroom.
Judge Haley-Halinski ruled in his favor last week, after applying the ‘ordinary English meaning’ of a bedroom. The judge said: ‘I have found the room in question was never intended to be a bedroom and has never been used as a bedroom.’ The council did not attend the first tier tribunal hearing to argue against the decision.
While it does not set a binding legal precedent, Winckworth Sherwood have warned it is likely to be followed by judges in further cases. Nikki Lynds-Xavier, a partner and head of housing management team said: ‘What makes this decision particularly interesting and potentially tricky for government is that the judge looked at how the spare room was actually used, rather than how the housing association first presented the property, which had classified the room as a second bedroom.
‘It is now entirely possible to see both abled and disabled tenants bringing similar cases when they can prove that a spare bedroom has never been used as a bedroom.’
The Department for Work and Pensions has yet to decide whether it will appeal the decision.
Source: Inside Housing
30th September 2013