Check if your home is overcrowded by law

Find out if your home is illegally overcrowded, also known as statutory overcrowding.

There are two 'standards' used to help work out overcrowding. Use them both to work out if your home is overcrowded.

1. Room standard

The room standard looks at the number and sex of people who have to sleep in the same room.

Any room you can sleep in counts, not just bedrooms. Living rooms, dining rooms and studies count as rooms you can sleep in.

Your home is overcrowded by law if:

  • 2 people of a different sex have to sleep in the same room

  • they are aged 10 or over 

The rule doesn't apply to couples who share a room. Children under 10 aren't counted.


A couple with two boys and a girl all aged under 10 living in a 1 bedroom flat with a living room would not count as overcrowded under the room standard.

2. Space standard

This method is called the space standard. There are two ways to work out if a home is overcrowded under the law using this method.

First count the number of people:

  • anyone aged 10 or over counts as 1 person

  • children aged 1 to 9 count as 0.5

  • children under 1 year old don't count

Next, count the number of rooms or measure the floor space of each room.

Don't count any room that is:

  • under 50 square feet or 4.6 square metres

  • not a bedroom or living room

Check the tables below to see if your home counts as overcrowded under the law under the space standard.

If you get different results

If you get different results from each table, use the lowest figure of maximum number of people allowed.


A couple with 2 boys aged 16 and 11 and a girl aged 17 live in a 3 bedroom flat with a living room. They aren't overcrowded under the room standard because 7.5 people are allowed to live in a home with 4 rooms under these rules.

But if all 4 rooms are less than 69 square feet the family are overcrowded under the space standard, because under these rules only 0.5 people should sleep in a room of that size.

In this example, use the lower figure of 0.5.

Number of rooms

Number of roomsMaximum number of people allowed

Floor space of each room

Room's floor space in square feetRoom's floor space in square metresMaximum number of people allowed
50 - 694.6 - 6.40.5
70 - 896.5 - 8.31
90 - 1098.4 - 10.11.5

If your home is overcrowded

If your home is overcrowded according to either the room standard or space standard, you could:

  • count as homeless by law

  • have additional priority if you apply for council housing

Find out what your options are if your home is overcrowded.

Still need advice?

Contact a Shelter adviser online or by phone

Last updated: 2 June 2021

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