Check if your home is overcrowded
Check the legal definition of overcrowding. Find out what your options are if you need to move because your home is overcrowded.
What is the legal definition of overcrowding?
The number of people who should live in a home depends on:
the number of rooms
the size of the rooms
the ages of the people who live there
Only living rooms and bedrooms count. The kitchen and bathroom do not count.
As a general rule:
1 room = 2 people can live there
2 rooms = 3 people can live there
3 rooms = 5 people can live there
4 rooms = 7.5 people can live there
5 rooms or more = 2 people per room can live there.
Overcrowding is measured by rooms or by space. If either of these standards apply, then the home is legally overcrowded.
The room standard
If two people of the opposite sex have to sleep in the same room then the accommodation will be overcrowded.
The accommodation will not be overcrowded if either of the following apply:
they are married, in a civil partnership or living together as a couple
one or both of them is under ten years old
For the room standard calculation, children under ten years old are always ignored.
The space standard
The size of a room determines how many people can sleep there:
floor area 50-69 square feet = 0.5 people can sleep there
floor area 70-89 square feet = 1 person can sleep there
floor area 90-109 square feet = 1.5 people can sleep there
floor area 110 square feet = 2 people can sleep there
For the space standard calculation:
children over one and under ten years old count as a half
children under one year old are not counted
rooms under 50 square feet are not counted
When is overcrowding allowed?
There are three situations where overcrowding is allowed. These are natural growth, temporary overcrowding and licensed overcrowding.
If the reason that your home becomes overcrowded is because one of your children has reached either the age of one year or ten years, and your household has not changed in any other way, then there will be no overcrowding.
The reason for overcrowding is that one of the people sleeping in your home is there on a temporary basis (less than 16 days) and is a guest.
If the council has given permission for the overcrowding.
Finding other accommodation
As a private tenant, you will probably have to consider other housing. This might mean:
finding a larger private rented place
If you are legally overcrowded, the council may have to help you find somewhere else to live. You may get priority on the waiting list for a council or housing association tenancy. How quickly you would get a place depends on the number of people on the waiting list and the amount of housing available to let.
If you are very overcrowded the council might consider it unreasonable for you to live in your home. In this case the council may have to help you because you are homeless.
Council and housing association tenants
If you rent your home from the council or a housing association, you can apply to transfer to a larger home if your home becomes overcrowded. How easily you will be able to do this will depend on the size of your household and the availability of housing in your area.
Last updated: 22 December 2021