Tenant with Disabilities? Beware of Seeking Possession


A social landlord that pursued possession proceedings against a tenant with a personality disorder has been found by the Court of Appeal to have acted unreasonably. The local authority in question, Croydon London Borough Council, should have considered other options as alternatives to possession and should have sought advice from specialist agencies before pursuing this course of action.
The tenant suffered from learning difficulties and a personality disorder. In a one-off incident, he assaulted a caretaker. The landlord’s anti-social behaviour (ASB) policy provided that the ASB team would work with social services, mental health services and other agencies in ASB cases that involved a vulnerable tenant. It was clear that the tenant’s behaviour was at least partially attributable to his disability and that his life would be thrown into chaos if he were evicted. This case was not a situation in which the anti-social behaviour could only be prevented through eviction.
The local authority had not given any consideration to the consequences to the tenant if he were evicted, nor had the ASB manager properly considered the contents of the psychiatric report. As a result, the council was required to look at alternatives to possession. This meant that it would still be open to the landlord to evict the tenant if, having had regard to all the circumstances, there was no alternative to eviction.
Landlords are reminded that they must always act in accordance with their ASB policy. Possession is considered to be a last resort, so alternatives have to be considered beforehand.

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