Overcrowding in Housing

Overcrowding can lead to physical and mental health problems, especially those related to privacy and child development. Our Housing Standards Team investigates complaints of overcrowding having regard to the standards contained in the Housing Act 1985 and the provisions of the Housing Act 2004 using the Housing, Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS).

The legal standard has changed very little since the early 1900s and many people who contact us find that they are not legally overcrowded even though their living conditions are very cramped.

The Standard

Look at each of the three sections below. The lowest number is the maximum number of occupants allowed in the house. Depending on the circumstances the owner or the tenant of the house may be breaching the Act. It is also possible for no-one to be at fault.

A room includes a bedroom, living room, dining room or study but does not include the kitchen, bathroom or hallway. If you have a kitchen/diner do not include the kitchen area of the room.

  • Room Standard (in all cases babies under 1 = 0 persons, children 1-10 years = ½ person, over 10 years = 1 person)
    1 room - 2 persons
    2 rooms - 3 persons
    3 rooms - 5 persons
    4 rooms - 7½persons

  • Sexual overcrowding - no two persons over 10 years old of the opposite sex should have to sleep in the same room (unless living as a couple). This does not allow for couples to have a room to themselves - the standard would not be breached if the mother slept in the same room as the daughter and the father with the son.

  • Space Standard - (people are defined as in the room standard above)
    10.2m2 or more = 2 persons
    8.36m2 - 10.2m2 = 1½ persons
    6.5m2 - 8.36m2 = 1 person
    4.66m2 - 6.5m2 = ½ person  

Landlords and tenants - agreeing to a tenancy must have regard to the room standards as above. Each case is assessed on its own merits, however, where overcrowding is found we may be required to take appropriate enforcement action to deal with the overcrowding.

What if I think I am overcrowded?

If you think you may be overcrowded please contact us to discuss your individual circumstances and we will advise and carry out an assessment as necessary.  Email housingstandards@staffordbc.gov.uk to request further information or an inspection.

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