High Court Dismisses Social Landlords Appeal Against Refusal to Make a Possession Order

On 25 September 2018, Mr Justice Birss dismissed an appeal by Curo Places Limited against the decision of HHJ Matthews of 7 March 2017 in which the judge refused to make a possession order on grounds of breach of tenancy and anti social behaviour that was being sought in respect of a vulnerable and disabled tenant.

Following a two day trial in March 2017 HHJ Matthews held that it was not reasonable to make a possession order against Ms Walker having regard, amongst other things, to the poor sound insulation in the property and the mental health conditions of the tenant. The judge also found that a defence based on disability discrimination contrary to the provisions of the Equality Act 2010 was made out.

Curo (the landlord) appealed against the decision of HHJ Matthews and argued that the judge was wrong to find that he was not bound by a conviction (the particulars of which were unspecified), failed to properly consider the effect of the tenant’s behaviour on her neighbours, erred in his approach in relation to issues concerning sound insulation in the property, was wrong to entertain the Equality Act 2010 defence when this was not pleaded and reached a decision that was perverse. Each of these grounds were rejected by The Honourable Mr Justice Birss who held that the basis for the appeal involved a mischaracterisation of the judgment of the court below and that the judge had properly carried out the assessments he was required to and was not plainly wrong in coming to the decision that he did.

A copy of the full judgment of the appeal can be found here: https://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/QB/2018/2462.html

The successful tenant and respondent to this appeal was represented both at trial and on appeal by Russell James of Magdalen Chambers