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Ground 14 and Possession for Criminality

The Court of Appeal has recently had cause to consider Ground 14 of Schedule II to the Housing Act 1988 in some detail. This ground provides a discretionary right to possession where the tenant has committed a criminal offence in, or in the locality of, the dwelling-house.

In Raglan Housing Association Ltd v Fairclough the tenant was convicted of downloading and possessiing indecent images of children. However, the offences were committed prioir to the current tenancy while he was residing in a property under a tenancy from the same landlord a few doors away. The Court of Appeal upheld the order for possession deciding that the relevant date was that of conviction and that the objective of Ground 14 was to ensure that individuals who might be disruptive or offensive did not remain in the locality.

In North Devon Homes Ltd v Nova Batchelor the tenant was convicted of possession of cannabis, possession of cocaine with intent to supply, and money laundering. The Court declined to award possession on the basis that the crimes were of a minor nature and it did not consider it necessary. The Court of Appeal upheld this decision.

The upshot of these decisions is that the position on Ground 14 possession for criminality remains uncertain with the higher Courts unwilling to interfere in the exercise of discretion by lower Courts. A more detailed discussion of these cases can be found at http://www.painsmith.co.uk/downloadnow/ground14.pdf.

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