Landmark case victory for disabled tenants

Wednesday 11 March 2015

The Supreme Court has today decided that the law provides ‘extra’ protection for disabled tenants in private and social rented housing.

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Now, even those disabled tenants who do not have security of tenure cannot be evicted for a reason relating to their disability, unless the landlord can show the court that evicting them is a proportionate pursuit of a legitimate aim. This will be important, for example, where disability causes a failure to pay rent or results in anti-social behaviour.

In this test case, the disabled tenant had been placed in a temporary housing association flat because he was homeless. The council and the association offered him a longer term home but because of his disability he could not engage in the process of moving-on. A claim for possession was made and he raised his disability by way of defence.

The County Court, High Court and Court of Appeal all decided that his defence could be rejected - without a trial - at a short summary hearing.

The Supreme Court disagreed. It held that, usually, such defences raised by tenants would require full consideration on their merits.

Due to very recent factual developments, the Supreme Court decided that it would be futile to send this particular case back for a full trial but the precedent will help many other disabled tenants keep their homes.

Jan Luba QC, Russell James and Cathy Casserley were instructed for the tenant by Shelter.

More information can be found in the summary.

The full judgment is also available: Akerman-Livingstone (Appellant) v Aster Communities Limited (formerly Flourish Homes Limited) (Respondent) [2015] UKSC 15

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