The immigration rules can be complex and the guidance published by the Home Office can be somewhat ambiguous, especially on the subject of what constitutes as adequate accommodation when applying for a spouse visa. This briefing will shed some light on what the requirement actually means and how you can fulfill this requirement.
When applying for a spouse visa under Appendix FM, an applicant is required to provide evidence that they have access to adequate accommodation which the family owns or occupies exclusively, without recourse to public funds. In order to assess the adequacy, the accommodation must not be 1) overcrowded or 2) contravene public health regulations.
Is your accommodation overcrowded?
You can assess whether your accommodation is overcrowded by referring to s324-326 of the Housing Act 1985 using the room standard and space standard test. You accommodation must adhere to both standards in order to prove that it is not overcrowded.
The room standard
The room standard assesses the number of people and gender of people who can sleep in one room. The basic rule is that a child under the age of 10 can share a room with another and so can couples. For example, a boy aged 12 and a girl aged 15 sharing a room would contravene the room standard because they are of opposite sex and are over the age of 10. For clarification a room would be available as sleeping accommodation if it is normally used as either a bedroom or a living room.
The space standard
The space standard assesses the number of people who may sleep in accommodation of a particular size. This will depend on the number and floor area of the rooms of the dwelling available for sleeping accommodation. Children under the age of one will not be counted in the assessment. Further to this, children aged one or over but under 10 would be classified as half a unit. The tables below show how many can sleep in an accommodation depending on the size and space.
Table 1 – Number of persons that can reside in a dwelling depending on the number of rooms
|No. of Rooms
||Number of persons
|5 or more
||2 for each room
Table 2 – Number of persons that can reside in a room according to the size
|Floor area of room
||Number of persons
|110 sq. ft. or more
|90 sq. ft. or more but less than 110 sq. ft
|70 sq. ft. or more but less than 90 sq. ft
|50 sq. ft. or more but less than 70 sq. ft
What constitutes a 'room'?
Naturally a bedroom would constitute as a room, but in addition to this a living room which is used as a bedroom also counts as a room.
What does 'owns or occupied exclusively' mean?
It is highlighted that there is no requirement that the whole accommodation must be owned or occupied by the family, as long as a part of it is owned or occupied exclusively for the family. Renting a room in a shared house is exclusive occupation and would meet the requirement.
How do you show you meet the requirement?
An applicant is required to provide evidence that their accommodation is adequate. This can be met by providing tenancy agreements, title deeds, mortgage documentation and consent letters from family or friends who may be providing you with accommodation.
Unfortunately, one of the most common reasons for a refusal of a spouse visa is due to not providing sufficient documents to evidence the 'adequate accommodation' requirement. If you would like assistance with your application or have further questions, then our immigration team can help you.