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PA Housing wins court case and sets precedent for Social Housing

2018 - July, Latest news

This morning, PA Housing won a court case which, going forward will be enshrined in case law. The Court of Appeal has ruled that PA Housing had not evicted a tenant unfairly or acted disproportionately, and that it had followed the correct steps in dealing with the customer, who had raised a counter-argument of disability discrimination. This will provide comfort to social landlords and ensure them that the courts will consider ‘substance over form’ on the topic of proportionality.

Initially, PA Housing instigated possession against a customer on the grounds that he was causing nuisance and ASB. However, the tenant argued that this behaviour was a consequence of his disability. As a result, PA Housing suspended the possession in order to protect the tenant’s disability under the Equality Act, and agreed that his home would not be re-possessed as long as he didn’t breach his tenancy again. The court ruled that this was a proportionate response.

When the customer breached the terms of his tenancy again, PA Housing was left with no choice but to obtain a warrant to re-possess the property. The customer argued against this, which led to a hearing.

There was no change of circumstance which had led the tenant to re-offend, and so PA Housing argued that there was nothing for the court to reconsider. The judge agreed and dismissed the customer’s application to stay in the property, ruling that PA Housing did not discriminate against the customer because of his disability. In this case, the judge said that eviction would be a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.

The court ruled that the tenant had no right to ask the court to reconsider the case unless there was a change of circumstance. Allowing the tenant to appeal the decision repeatedly could lead to continued and vexatious attempts.

PA Housing accepted that it is a landlord’s sustained and continued duty not to discriminate against a tenant. There may be future cases where a change of circumstances would affect the case differently, but this was not such a case.

This is a very positive outcome for our residents in the locality, who have been experiencing serious anti-social behaviour for eight years. The PA Housing approach to tenancy solutions is to work with residents and support them to sustain their tenancies, but unfortunately in some cases this is not possible. The Court of Appeal judgement supports our approach and our robust internal justification process, which ensures that we are proportionate in our action and consider a resident’s personal circumstances before we take enforcement action.

Sharon Butler; Tenancy Solutions Team Manager

PA Housing was represented by Ryan Kohli of Cornerstone Barristers, instructed by Gavinder Ryait, Partner and Assistant Head of the Housing Management Department at Batchelors Solicitors.


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