Sarah McKeown represents successful local authority in possession claim concerning introductory tenancy

27 July 2023

Sarah McKeown acted for the successful local authority in a long-running possession claim concerning an introductory tenancy. Ultimately, the tenant's appeal against the possession order focused on the public sector equality duty and section 15 disability discrimination was dismissed by the High Court.

Background to the possession order being made

Ms Holland was an introductory tenant of the local authority and had committed anti-social behaviour. This led to the local authority issuing possession proceedings based on notice under s.128 Housing Act 1996.

The tenant defended the possession claim on extensive and numerous grounds:

  • unlawful extension of the introductory period
  • unlawful review of decision to seek possession
  • breach of s.15 Equality Act 2010 (discrimination on the basis of her disability),
  • breach of s.149 Equality Act 2010 (breach of the public sector equality duty).

Additionally she counterclaimed for damages under Equality Act 2010.

After a 2-day trial, the circuit judge made an order for possession. The judge found that it would not be a breach of s.15 or s.149 Equality Act 2010 to do so without suitable alternative accommodation being available to Ms Holland.

She also found that it had been unnecessary for the joint expert in the case to have been asked about the effects of homelessness on Ms Holland.

Ms Holland's appeal to the High Court

Ms Holland appealed to the High Court, who dismissed her appeal.

Edwin Johnson J upheld the finding of the circuit judge that it had not been necessary for the expert to have been asked the question about homelessness.

The judge also found that the circuit judge had considered an offer by Ms Holland days before the trial, proposing among other things, that the local authority provide suitable alternative accommodation for her.

Edwin Johnson J upheld the findings that there had been no breach of s.15 or s.149 Equality Act 2010.

Read the judgment in Reading Borough Council v Holland [2023]  EWHC 1902 (Ch)