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The UK Family Visa Accommodation Requirement

When applying for entry clearance, leave to remain or settlement under Appendix FM of the Immigration Rules to join a partner, parent, dependant child, or as an adult dependant relative in the UK, applicants must satisfy an accommodation requirement.  In this post we provide a short guide to the UK visa accommodation requirement, looking at what exactly is meant by the requirement to have adequate accommodation for the purpose of a family-based UK visa or immigration application.

What is the UK visa accommodation requirement?

Under the family immigration routes, applicants must show that their accommodation is ‘adequate’. The requirement for ‘adequate accommodation’ means that the family will be living in accommodation which:

  1. Is owned or occupied exclusively by the applicant and their family;
  2. Will be obtained without recourse to public funds;
  3. Is not, or will not, be overcrowded; and
  4. Does not breach public health regulations.

The meaning of exclusive occupation

Paragraph 6 of the Immigration Rules states that part of the accommodation must be for the exclusive use of the family, such as a bedroom. This does not prohibit sharing other areas of the accommodation, for example a kitchen or bathroom.

Evidence should demonstrate how the applicant can legally occupy the accommodation. This could be via a copy of the property deeds, mortgage documents, tenancy agreement and/or letter from the landlord confirming that rent payments are up to date and the applicant is allowed to occupy the property. If the accommodation is owned or rented in the name of another family member or friend, they should sign a letter stating the basis on which they are entitled to the property and giving consent for the applicant to live there.

Similarly, where accommodation is rented from a local council, correspondence between the tenant and council confirming the basis on which the legal occupier is residing at the property and that the applicant has permission to live there, can be relied upon. Applicants should also provide evidence of benefits received where these go towards housing costs.

The meaning of no recourse to public funds

An applicant will not be considered as having recourse to public funds simply because they will be relying partly or wholly on their sponsor’s receipt of public funds in order to satisfy the accommodation requirement. Therefore, if the sponsor receives certain benefits which they use towards payment of the accommodation, the requirement may still be satisfied.

Where the sponsor would be entitled to additional public funds due to the applicant’s presence in the UK, this will generally be considered public funds, and therefore prevent the requirement being met. However, if the applicant is applying from within the UK and the applicant and sponsor will be jointly entitled to benefits specified under section 115 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999, this will not prevent the applicant meeting the requirement.

When is accommodation overcrowded?

The Housing Act 1985 provides requirements which, if breached, will make the accommodation overcrowded. Other family members who will be living in the property must be taken into account for the calculation, even if they are not making an application.

The number of people allowed to occupy a room is determined by the size of the room and the occupants’ ages. Only rooms of 50 square feet or more are counted. This is any room that could be used for sleeping and therefore includes living rooms but not a kitchen or bathroom.

Any children under 1 year old are not counted. Children between 1 and 10 years old count as a half. If there are 2 people aged 10 or over of the opposite sex who are not a couple, they cannot sleep in the same room. The Applicant could provide a floor plan to verify the number of available rooms.

The Housing Act provides tables to help calculate whether accommodation would be overcrowded:

Floor area of room Number of persons
110 sq. ft. or more 2
90 sq. ft. or more but less than 110 sq.ft.
70 sq. ft. or more but less than 90 sq. ft. 1
50 sq. ft. or more but less than 70 sq. ft. ½

 

Number of rooms in the property Number of persons
1 2
2 3
3 5
4
5 or more 2 for each room

Therefore, living in a studio flat is acceptable if it is 110 square feet or more, and occupied by a couple and their child under the age of 1.

What about a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO)?

An HMO is “a house which is occupied by persons who do not form a single household”, such as a hotel or hostel. The definition extends to accommodation lived in by 2 or more family units, such as a couple living with one of their relatives. The applicant must show that the part of the property they occupy exclusively is adequate. The applicant should provide written confirmation that they are allowed to live there.

It should be noted that local authorities can serve overcrowding notices specifying the amount of people allowed in a house.

When is overcrowding allowed?

Home Office guidance states that overcrowding will be allowed:

  • When arrangements are temporary, e.g.  a child has just turned 1 or 10 and new arrangements have not yet been made, or where another person is staying for a short time; or
  • When the local authority has given permission for licensed overcrowding.

Public health regulations

Most properties will not contravene these regulations. If the Home Office is satisfied that there is a breach, the accommodation will not be classed as adequate. This could include where there is mould, no valid gas safety certificate or an energy efficiency rating is below band ‘E’. Compliance can be evidenced by a report from a Chartered Surveyor or the local authority, as well as recent photographs to demonstrate that the property is in a good state of repair.

Exemptions from the accommodation requirement

The only exception from the accommodation requirement is when applying for leave to remain as a partner or parent and paragraph EX.1 applies. See here for more details.

Contact our UK Family visa application immigration lawyers

For expert advice and assistance in relation to a family visa initial entry, extension or settlement application, or a family-based immigration appeal, contact our immigration barristers and lawyers in London on 0203 617 9173 or complete our enquiry form below.

SEE HOW OUR IMMIGRATION BARRISTERS CAN HELP YOU

To arrange an initial consultation meeting, call our immigration barristers on 0203 617 9173 or fill out the form below.

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