London Borough of Haringey v Simawi and another [2018] EWHC 290

High Court

19 February 2018

The High Court has held that an issue arising in a possession claim relating to second succession of secure tenancies under sections 87 and 88 of the Housing Act 1985 should be considered by the Court even if the issue happens to be resolved before the hearing, as the matter is of public importance.

The London Borough of Haringey wanted to repossess a property, but the defendant (Simawi) claimed that he was the secure tenant of the property by succession and that the no second succession rule in sections 87-88 of the Housing Act 1985 was incompatible with the Human Rights Act 1998. The Court held that the matter had gone beyond the private interests of the two litigants in the particular claim and held that the Court should determine the issue, even if the Council offered the defendant a new tenancy. The issue was of great significance and potentially affected a large number of people.

This is an important test case for local housing authorities, as there are potential repercussions for the no second succession rule under the Housing Act 1985 and whether the rule is incompatible with the Human Rights Act 1998. The hearing is scheduled for 2 October 2018.

A copy of the judgment is here.

Brown v Hyndburn Borough Council [2018] EWCA Civ 242

Court of Appeal

21 February 2018

The Court of Appeal has provided guidance on the use of conditions included in landlord licences issued by local authorities under the selective licensing regime, under the Housing Act 2004.

Hyndburn Borough Council had used section 90 of the Housing Act 2004 to set conditions that required landlords to install a carbon monoxide monitor and ensure that the electrical installations met the prescribed standard. The landlord (Mr Brown) appealed those conditions to the First-tier Tribunal (FTT). The FTT set aside the electrical installations condition and replaced the carbon monoxide condition with a less stringent condition that only required the landlord to provide written confirmation as to whether the landlord or the tenant was responsible for maintaining it. However, on appeal, the Upper Tribunal reinstated the conditions. Mr Brown appealed this decision.

The Court of Appeal, in allowing the appeal, removed the conditions. It held that the power to regulate the “management, use or occupation” of a house does not entitle a local authority to impose conditions requiring the introduction of “new facilities or equipment”.

In light of the ruling, local authorities will need to carefully consider the content and purpose of any conditions they want to impose on landlords under the selective licensing regime.

A copy of the judgment is here.

Victory Place Management Company Ltd v Kuehn & Anor [2018] EWHC 132

High Court

30 January 2018

The High Court has upheld an injunction that required the leaseholder to remove their dog from their flat.

The long lease prohibited the leaseholder (Kuehn) from keeping pets without the written consent of the tenants' management company (VPMC). VPMC had a “no pets” policy, which reflected the wishes of the development’s other tenants. The Kuehns were made aware of the policy before purchasing the property and had asked VPMC for consent to keep a dog, which was refused.

When the Kuehns moved into the flat with the dog, VPMC obtained an injunction for its removal. The Kuehns appealed.

The High Court held that VPMC's policy was not unreasonable or irrational, and concluded that VPMC had not adopted an unfair process.

The decision will be of interest to landlords, as it highlights how the courts will determine similar disputes. The ruling may also have a wider application to similar leasehold covenants that do not expressly state how the landlord or management company should exercise its discretion.

A copy of the judgment is here.

Davies v Hertfordshire County Council [2018] EWCA Civ 379

Court of Appeal

6 March 2018

The Court of Appeal has clarified the law on secure tenancies of local authority-owned homes.

Hertfordshire County Council had sought possession of a school bungalow, which it owned. The defendant (Mr Davies) had occupied the bungalow when he became the school caretaker, but several years later was dismissed for gross misconduct. The High Court held that the Council was entitled to repossess the bungalow, finding that the agreement between Mr Davies and the Council amounted to a ‘service occupancy’ and that the Council was entitled to regain its premises, even though the Council no longer ran the school and did not require the bungalow for another caretaker.

Mr Davies appealed the ruling to the Court of Appeal.

The Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal, holding that the difficulties that would arise from moving the family, particularly the children, from the home, whilst “unfortunate”, could not provide justification for allowing the family with no private law right to remain in the bungalow, or for depriving the Council of its “otherwise unanswerable property rights”.

A copy of the judgment is here.