A £5 million new easyHotel in Belfast may not be certified to open because its rooms are too small.

The development of the super budget hotel involved the conversion of offices into 81 double and family bedrooms.

However, BBC News reported that a “sizeable” number of its rooms are below the 13 sq m stipulated in Northern Ireland legislation.

The hotel is due to open next month, but its certification is currently in doubt.

All accommodation must be certified by Tourism Northern Ireland (TNI), with requirements set out in the Categories of Tourist Establishment (Statutory Criteria) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1992.

Operating without official approval is punishable by a fine of up to £2,500 or imprisonment of up to six months.

Issues relating to room size, some of which measure nine square metres, have been flagged up at board level within TNI.

The tourism body told the BBC: “Tourism NI conducts the certification process in strict confidence with the accommodation provider.

“Developers and operators are referred to the legislation as soon as plans are submitted to Tourism NI, including any requirements outlined within the legislation relating to room size.”

The developers behind easyHotel Belfast said they were “working closely” with TNI on the certification process.

It is understood easyHotel believes an exemption to certification could be permissible if TNI and the Northern Ireland department for the economy agreed.