Private housing sector - overcrowding

To be considered overcrowded according to the law a home has to fall into at least one of the following categories:

i) the number of people sleeping there is such that any two persons aged 10 years or over of opposite sexes who are not man and wife must sleep in the same room. (To determine this all the rooms that may be normally used either as a bedroom, living or dining room have to be counted as a potential bedroom).

ii) the "permitted number" for the property is exceeded. The permitted number is the maximum number of people that may sleep in a house, having regard to the floor area of the rooms [space standard] and the total number of rooms available [room standard] (again living rooms as well as bedrooms have to be included in the calculation). When calculating the permitted number, no account is taken of a child under the age of one year and a child between 1 and 10 years is counted as “half a unit”.

Table 1: room standard

Number of rooms Number of persons
1 2
2 3
3 5
4 7.5
5 or more 2 for each room

Table 2: space standard

Floor area Number of persons
4.645m2  -  6.503m2 0.5
6.503m2  -  8.361m2 1
8.361m2  -  10.219m2 1.5
10.219m2 and over 2


The permitted number is taken to be the lesser of:

a) the permitted number (in Table 1) in relation to the numbers of rooms and;

b) the total number of persons for all rooms in the dwelling specified (in Table 2) in relation to each room.

No account is taken of any room with a floor of less than 4.645m2

The law on overcrowding does not take account of the amount of furniture and possessions that occupiers might want to put into the home.

In conjunction with the above an overcrowding assessment must also be made in accordance with the Housing Health and Safety Housing System which takes into account other factors and not just room sizes

If you think that the property you rent is overcrowded and would like to speak to someone about it please contact Harlow Council’s Environmental Health Team on 01279 446111 or email