Area(s) of Law : Housing Law
Court : EWHC (QB)
Source : All ER (D) 95 (Dec)
Date : 06-12-2007
Case Summary By : Andrew Lane
D had been a non-secure tenant of the local authority but in 2004 a possession order had been made against her (in reality due to rent arrears). The authority allowed her to remain in the property upon an arrangement to clear the arrears and when this broke down in 2007 they applied for a warrant for possession. This was due to take effect on the 1st October 2007 and on the 27th September 2007 she made an application to stay the warrant. Represented by the duty adviser, this application was refused by the district judge and an appeal made the same day to the circuit judge. An adjournment was sought and of the latter application as further information was required concerning the defendant's disability (diabetes and dyslexia) and the applicability of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 ("DDA"). The circuit judge refused permission to appeal. The defendant appealed the former 2 decisions.
Mr Justice Eady allowed the appeal on all grounds. He rejected the local authority argument that the court did not have power to stay the warrant because of the provisions of s.89 of the Housing Act 1980, and the notion that because reasons were prima facie not required in a non-secure tenancy possession case then the DDA could not apply. The authority of Lewisham LBC v Malcol  EWCA Civ 763 makes it quite clear that the court would not allow an unlawful discriminatory act to proceed. Futher, it was the case that they only sought a warrant because of the worsening rent arrears position, and that was arguably due to the defendant's disability (i.e unable to read and deal with the tax credit review form). The appeal court had psychologist evidence supporting the defendant's case and the circuit judge misdirected himself on the question of delay and disability. The matter was therefore remitted back to the county court for the permission application to be reconsidered.
Mrs Wright was represented by Andy Lane, Hardwicke Building.