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Cite as: [2017] UKUT 471 (AAC)

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Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council v RH and Secretary of State for Work and Pensions: [2017] UKUT 471 (AAC) (1 December 2017)

Housing Benefit meaning of "bedroom" in Regulation B13 of the Housing Benefit Regulations 2006 whether assessment requires authority to take into account how bedroom would be used by particular family unit The claimant lives with her husband and their two sons in a property described in the tenancy agreement as having three bedrooms. Two of the bedrooms are small and awkwardly shaped. Originally, the family's housing benefit (HB) covered their whole rent. The local authority, applying regulation B13, decided they had one excess bedroom and reduced their HB by 740 per year. The claimant successfully appealed to the First-tier Tribunal (F-tT). A three-judge panel of the Upper Tribunal set aside the F-tT's decision and held that the regulation B13 assessment required the characteristics of the category of persons to the considered. The Secretary of State appealed to the Court of Appeal.

Held, allowing the appeal, that:

1. "bedroom" is an ordinary word which is neither defined nor qualified in the regulations. The word has to be construed and applied in its context having regard to the underlying principle of the legislation, which is to limit HB entitlement to those occupying social housing. The language of the regulations demonstrates that the criteria identified as limiting such benefit is the entitlement of a tenant to a bedroom for persons listed in subparagraphs (5) and (6). Such an assessment is an objective one (paragraph 38);
2. pursuant to regulation B13(5), the word "bedroom" should be interpreted as meaning a room capable of being used as a "bedroom" by any of the listed categories and not a room capable of being used as a "bedroom" by a particular claimant (paragraph 41).

The Court of Appeal quashed the decision of the Upper Tribunal and, applying regulation B13, decided that the claimant is entitled to a two-bedroomed property.

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