Check if your home is overcrowded by law

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

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 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 13 Dec 2019 | © Shelter

If you need to talk to someone, we’ll do our best to help

Get help

Email a link to this article

Thank you - your message has been sent.

Sorry! - your message has not been sent this time.

Was this advice helpful?

Thank you - your feedback has been submitted to the team.

Sorry! - your message has not been sent this time.