‘Bedroom tax’ sees some ‘spare’ rooms reclassified

A housing association is looking to reclassify St Edmundsbury homes with ‘unusable’ bedrooms in light of the ‘bedroom tax’ fiasco.

In recent weeks, the national press have reported on councils defying changes to the benefit system by reclassifying bedrooms as ‘non specific’ rooms.

Karen Mayhew, chief executive of Havebury Housing Partnership, said it was having ‘a fair and sensible’ look at its housing stock to bring its records up-to-date and would consider reclassifying spare bedrooms in some circumstances.

If the installation of a wet room had resulted in the loss of a bedroom, for example, Mrs Mayhew said it would not be fair for that tenant to face cuts to their housing benefit as part of a scheme designed to encourage people with spare rooms to downsize.

She said: “It wouldn’t have mattered before the ‘bedroom tax’ but now it does, and, if that room’s not available to sleep in, because of the circumstance we’re ensuring our record of that particular property is right, so that our resident isn’t penalised.”

As well as looking at any properties that have had disabled adaptations, on which Havebury spent £400,000 during the last financial year, it is also looking at any properties with bedrooms too small to be classified as bedrooms.

Havebury was unable to say how many properties it had reclassified so far. It currently has 422 that are considered under-occupied.