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Practice Note 6 Appendix 3: Aggregation Special cases - Sheltered accommodation with high degree of communal facilities
The purpose of this Appendix is to clarify some of the parameters where discretion can be exercised when considering the principles of aggregation in respect of semi-sheltered accommodation for the elderly within multi-occupied large houses. Readers will need to be fully acquainted with the legislation as set out in CTM PN1 appendix “Understanding the Chargeable Dwellings Order”, and be familiar with the principles of disaggregation set out in CTM PN5 and Aggregation as set out in CTM PN6. The definition of a self contained unit (SCU) for all cases covered by the Order is “a building or part of a building constructed or adapted for use as separate living accommodation.”
Article 4 of the Council Tax Chargeable Dwellings Order 1992 gives Listing Officers a limited discretion to aggregate separate dwellings comprising a single SCU. PN 6 and its appendices explain the principles, and a number of High Court Appeals have established the law in this area, which most frequently affects Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs).
In some cases the following circumstances may exist:-
● periodic tenancies suggest separate dwellings exist.
● rooms are not fully self contained, though they do have adaptations such as en-suite WC and showers.
● A few communal kitchenettes exist but they do not have the facilities to function as kitchens to prepare main meals, nor are facilities within rooms capable of sustaining the room as an independent unit.
● Main meals are taken communally in the Dining room, as a condition of occupation, prepared by staff from the main kitchen.
● Additional communal living space comprises lounge, and sitting areas such as conservatories.
Such a property will not qualify as a care home, unless all or part is registered as such. They come in various forms, either purpose built or converted from former living accommodation, and it is important to bear in mind when applying the advice, that every home needs looking at according to the individual facts.
The disaggregation case of Beasley (LO) v The National Council for YMCAs 2000 RA 429 considered whether the parts were SCUs under Article 3. The remarks of Judge Sullivan are considered to have relevance in deciding on the matter of SCUs. The Judge said “…I would be prepared to accept that in deciding whether a particular flat has or has not been constructed for use as separate living accommodation within a larger building, it will often be relevant to consider the extent of communal facilities which have been provided in the flat and the extent of the communal facilities which have been provided in the remainder of the building.”
When applying Article 4 the SCU must be the whole building (or part subject of aggregation), and the LO is required to consider “all the circumstances of the case” as well as the degree of structural alteration within the individual rooms. Thus the nature and use of the building including the extent of communal facilities and services is a relevant consideration, though it is not so under Article 3 which purely looks at the physical state of the building (bricks and mortar) in deciding whether individual SCUs exist. A ‘multiple property’ in Article 4 is defined as two or more Section 3 dwellings in Article 2, so ‘hereditament’ is not the sole criteria to consider when applying discretion.
In some cases there may be difficulty or difference of opinion on the number of hereditaments, whether one or many where significant shared areas exist within the house, and where the rooms fall short of having sufficient accommodation or facilities to be considered as self contained units. In such cases it is considered possible to arrive at the same result in terms of dwellings whether applying Article 3 or Article 4 discretion.
In applying the principles of Article 4 CDO to individual cases involving sheltered accommodation within large houses, LOs may exercise discretion where all of the following elements apply:
1. The whole house has recognisable features of a single SCU despite its multi-occupation. (e.g. one main front door, one kitchen, one communal dining room, communal sitting areas, communal laundry).
2. The individual rooms (which form part of the multiple dwelling which may be separate hereditaments) would not have sufficient structural adaptation to be considered SCUs for disaggregation should we be applying Article 3.
3. There is significant communal accommodation e.g. lounge, conservatory, dining room and Kitchen provided specifically and compulsorily for the provision of main meals to the occupants.
4. There are no, or insufficient, cooking facilities within the rooms and where the occupants, as a consequence, have no option but to take their main meals communally.
5. "All the circumstances of the case" under Article 4 CDO will take into account the nature of the occupants, the level of dependency on the housing providers by way of provision of communal accommodation and extent of residential services provided.
Some homes will fall into this category, whilst others may not. It is acknowledged that there may be some circumstances where the individual room or rooms will constitute SCUs. In this case aggregation would not be possible. There may be circumstances where part of the building only can be aggregated, where a group of rooms forming part of the building can reasonably be viewed as a single SCU for aggregation purposes.
If there is any difficulty in understanding the application of this advice in individual circumstances, you are advised to contact your Technical Advisor or CT Technical Head for central advice.