Healthy Homes Standards: What Defines a Living Room?

The Housing Improvement Regulations 1947 set out the minimum requirements for housing, with the local authorities responsible for enforcing the minimum requirements under the Act. Effectively, a property must meet all these requirements unless it complies with the equivalent Building Code Requirements at the time it was built.

These regulations define a habitable room as any room which is used or intended to be used, or, in the opinion of the local authority, is capable of being used, as a living room, dining room, sitting room, or bedroom; and includes a kitchen having a floor area of 80 square feet or more, but does not include a room constructed and used as a garage. Therefore, a living room can be the lounge, dining, kitchen, or a combination of these spaces depending on the property’s layout according to the Healthy Homes Standards.

The Healthy Home regulations require that the largest room used for general everyday living be used as the living room in terms of measuring heating capacity. Properties that only have heating in the smallest living area are likely to fail the heating standard, as the heating is required in the larger living area. An example of this could be that the kitchen/ dining area is the largest living area and not the lounge/living room, so heating will be required in the kitchen/dining area.

The Healthy Homes Standards set specific and minimum requirements, and landlords can choose to provide heating over and above the minimum standards, heating other parts of the property and not only the main living room. This will ensure a dryer, warmer, healthier home, and one that is likely to be more attractive to tenants.

This article is featured in Property Management Focus Issue 7, 2022.