Check if your home is overcrowded by law

Use either of these two methods to work out if your home is illegally overcrowded, also known as statutory overcrowding.

1. Room standard

This method is called the room standard. It looks at the number and gender of people who sleep in the same room. Children under the age of 10 are not counted.  

A room is considered anywhere you could sleep in, not just bedrooms. It could include a living room, study or dining room.

Your home is overcrowded by law if two people of different genders have no option but to sleep in the same room. This doesn't apply to couples.


A couple with two boys and a girl all aged under 10 living in a one-bedroom flat with a living room would not count as overcrowded by law.

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 from each table, use the lowest figure of maximum number of people allowed.

Number of rooms

Number of roomsMaximum number of people allowed
1 2
2 3
3 5
4 7.5
5 10

Floor space of each room

Room's floor space in square feetRoom's floor space in square metresMaximum number of people allowed
50 - 69 4.6 - 6.4 0.5
70 - 89 6.5 - 8.3 1
90 - 109 8.4 - 10.1 1.5
110 10.2 2

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 31 May 2018 | © Shelter

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