Adequate accommodation for UK spouse, partner, and family visas

Accommodation arranged in the UK is one of the mandatory requirements for spouse visa, partner visa and other family visas for the UK. It is important to ensure that you have a suitable accommodation in place and that you have the relevant documentary evidence to prove it before applying for your visa. UK immigration rules are strict and therefore you should pay detailed attention to each mandatory requirement for any UK visa application.

Accommodation is not adequate if it is not owned or legally occupied by the family unit. Accommodation can be shared with others. ‘Occupy exclusively’ is defined in paragraph 6 of the Immigration Rules and means that at least part of the accommodation must be for the exclusive use of the family.

Decision makers should expect to see evidence that the family unit of the applicant/sponsor and any dependants have or will have exclusive use of at least the bedroom or bedrooms required for the number, age and gender of members of their family unit. The rest of the accommodation outside those exclusive areas which are for the exclusive use of the family unit can be shared with others.

Accommodation is not adequate if it is, or will be, overcrowded. Under paragraph 6 of the Immigration Rules, the meaning of overcrowded is the meaning in the Housing Act 1985, the Housing (Scotland) Act 1987 or the Housing (Northern Ireland) Order 1988 (as appropriate). Accommodation is not adequate if it does or will contravene public health regulations.

Accommodation requirement for spouse partner and family visas in the UK

Ownership/occupation for the accommodation

The applicant should provide evidence as to the basis on which the accommodation is or will be owned or occupied (including rented) by the family unit. This may for example be in the form of a copy of the property deeds, a letter from a bank or building society as to the mortgage arrangements, a lease agreement and rent book, or a letter from a family member or friend who is making the accommodation available to the applicant and their family unit.

When accommodation is not owned by sponsor

Where the accommodation is not ‘owned’ by the sponsor (in the sense that they are not the head of the household but, for example, are living with their parents or are living alongside other tenants in a house in multiple occupation), the rules require there to be adequate accommodation which the sponsor and any partner and dependants will occupy for their exclusive use. This need not be a separate house or self-contained flat but, where it is as little as one bedroom of their own, enquiries should be made about the number of rooms in the property, the number of occupants and whether this is only intended to be a short-term arrangement.

Housing standards Local authorities have the power to set the housing standards that must be met in their area. While it will not generally be necessary to approach the local authority in each case to see whether their standards are met, the applicant should provide sufficient evidence that the accommodation will be adequate. This may take the form for example of a letter from a housing authority or building society or a description of the property that the decision maker can be satisfied is accurate and genuine.

Definition of overcrowding

In England and Wales, under the Housing Act 1985 if either the room standard and/or the space standard is breached a dwelling will be regarded as overcrowded under the Act. The overcrowding definition covers privately owned homes and those owned by local authorities.

The room standard The room standard is contravened under the Act when the number of persons sleeping in a dwelling and the number of rooms available as sleeping accommodation is such that 2 persons aged 10 or over of the opposite sex who are not living together as a couple must sleep in the same room.

The space standard The space standard is contravened when the number of persons sleeping in a dwelling is in excess of the permitted number, having regard to the number and floor area of the rooms of the dwelling available as sleeping accommodation. For immigration purposes we do not look at the floor area for each room as it is complex to evidence and assess. Home Office focus on the number of permitted occupants based on the number of rooms.

Method of assessing whether accommodation is overcrowded

Count the number of people who would be occupying the accommodation. This includes everyone who would be occupying the house, including those who are not parties to the application for leave. Children under one year old are not counted; children aged between one and 10 are counted as a half.

Count the number of rooms available as sleeping accommodation. When counting the number of rooms to assess whether a property is or will be overcrowded, the decision maker should look at how the sleeping arrangements within the premises could be organised rather than at how they are currently organised. In practice, this means counting the number of rooms that are bedrooms or are living rooms which could be used as a bedroom. Bathrooms and kitchens should not be counted as sleeping accommodation. Rooms of less than 50 square feet are not counted.

Compare the number of people who would be occupying the accommodation with the number of rooms available as sleeping accommodation to assess whether it would be overcrowded. The following table represents what would, subject to their age, gender and whether they are a couple, be an acceptable maximum number of people to occupy a house with the relevant number of rooms available as sleeping accommodation:

Number of rooms in the accommodation available for sleeping Number of people permitted to sleep in the accommodation without it being overcrowded 1 2 2 3 3 5 4 7.5 5 10 More than 5 rooms 10 plus an additional 2 persons for each room in excess of 5 rooms For example, 6 rooms = 12 people, 7 rooms = 14 people. Additionally, the decision maker should consider whether there are an acceptable number of rooms available as sleeping accommodation to accommodate those who must have a separate bedroom (as set out above, ‘The room standard’). The decision maker does not have to go on to consider this issue if they have already assessed the accommodation as overcrowded based on the above table.

Houses in multiple occupation

A house in multiple occupation (HMO) is defined as “a house which is occupied by persons who do not form a single household”. This covers hotels and hostels, as well as houses lived in by 2 or more family units or by a couple (and their dependent children) living with the parents or other family members of one of them. There are separate overcrowding provisions for HMOs. Local authorities have the power to serve an overcrowding notice in relation to a HMO specifying the maximum number of people permitted in the house or preventing any further residents. Where an overcrowding notice renders an occupant homeless, the local authority may be obliged to provide them with accommodation under the Housing Act 1985, for example, if they have dependent children or are old or infirm.