Tenant loses appeal over possession order and her human rights
A private sector tenant has lost her appeal against a possession order that she claimed infringed her human rights.
The tenant was in her mid-forties and had suffered since childhood from a personality disorder and psychotic symptoms. She had lost two public sector tenancies owing to her behaviour.
Her parents bought a property for her to occupy and they became her landlords. The rent was covered by housing benefit.
The parents fell into arrears with the mortgage repayments and the loan company appointed receivers, who sought possession in the role of landlords.
The judge heard evidence from a medical expert as to the major detrimental effect of eviction on the tenant's mental health, but concluded that the court had no power to consider proportionality under the Human Rights Act 1998, given that the person seeking possession was not a public authority.
That decision has been upheld by the Supreme Court. It held that human rights legislation could not justify a different order from that which was mandated by the contractual relationship between tenant and landlord.
Michael Paget, a barrister at Cornerstone Barristers, told the Law Gazette that the ruling meant that “no matter how sympathetic a judge is to a tenant’s personal plight” they must uphold the landlord’s right to possession.
He said: ‘The judgment stops the expansion of human rights arguments in housing law. It reinforces the supremacy of domestic law. Parliament has struck a balance between the rights of landlords and tenants and the courts will apply the intention of parliament without modification.”
Please contact Janice Young about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of commercial property law.