High Court upholds tenant’s human rights

Thursday 18 October 2012

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The High Court today, in an unprecedented development, upheld the dismissal of a claim for possession against an Introductory Tenant on the basis that eviction would infringe his human rights.

Southend Council granted Mr Robert Armour an introductory tenancy in January 2011 and within two months there were three complaints that he had been abusive. The Council decided to seek eviction and its decision was upheld on review. The Housing Acts gave it an absolute right to a possession order.

But by the time the case came to trial in March 2012, Mr Armour had been diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome and Severe Depression. He lacked the capacity to defend the claim. Despite his disabilities, there had been no further incidents of misbehaviour and Mr Armour had the support of his teenage daughter (who lived with him), youth services, the probation service, his sister and his ex-partner. The judge (a Recorder) decided that a possession order would infringe his human rights and dismissed the claim.

The council brought an appeal in the High Court.

Today, Mr Justice Cranston dismissed the appeal. He said that the judge had balanced all the factors weighing for and against it being 'proportionate' to grant possession. She had given a "model judgment" showing how these cases should be dealt with.

This is believed to be the first time an appeal court has upheld the dismissal of a possession claim on human rights grounds.

The Recorder's judgment can be read here.

The tenant was represented by Jan Luba QC.

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