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Article 8, the Tenant’s Human Rights.

We have been asked a few questions recently about a tenants right to remain in a property when there are rent arrears. We understand that some landlords and agents are concerned that tenants are defeating possession claims pursuant to Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
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> The reason for this concern is probably due to the recent cases in the Supreme Court. In Hounslow LBC v Powell, Leeds CC v Hall and Birmingham CC v Frisby the Supreme Court held that where a local authority brings possession proceedings relying on mandatory grounds for possession any defence to the claim, can include the tenants entitlement to have the proportionality of his eviction assessed under Article 8.
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> Given that these cases are concerned with social landlords as opposed to the private market, I will briefly explain the facts of the Powell case.
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> Mrs Powell fell into arrears and upon serving her with a notice to quit, Hounslow County Council issued possession proceedings. Mrs Powell admitted that there were rent arrears but then also averred that the reason for the arrears was due to the delays and errors made by Hounslow in processing the benefit claim.
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> Hounslow has since offered Powell suitable accommodation.
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> The reason for this article is to reassure those landlords that believe that tenants who are on benefits have rights to the property beyond that provided for in the Housing Act 1988.
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> The cases have one thing in common that is local councils who are subject to the test of proportionality when they apply for possession. This test of proportionality is not expected to be relevant in the private sector as that would prevent landlords from managing their own property in the manner they see fit within the parameters of the Housing Act 1988.

4 Comments

  • Judy Crompton 14th March 2011 at 12:23 pm

    Just a quick word to say how very much I appreciate the public spiritedness of these blogs. They are enormously helpful and I am most grateful.

    Thank you

  • Peter Smith 14th March 2011 at 3:04 pm

    This comes from a recent European Court of Human Rights decision, so I’m not sure why you feel that proportionality would not apply to private landlords (comments welcome).

    Also of interest to many would be how the principle should be applied to repossessions due to mortgage arrears by homeowners. What say you?

    • PainSmith 14th March 2011 at 3:28 pm

      Mr Smith the decision is in fact of the Supreme Court, if you click on the link you will note this.

  • Angus Shield 17th March 2011 at 8:00 am

    Very interesting and potentially alarming.

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