Supreme Court protects disabled tenants from eviction

There is often little that some tenants can do if their landlord decides they want the property back. 

But today the Supreme Court has unanimously ruled (summary herethat a court must give detailed consideration to a defence to a landlord’s claim for possession by a disabled tenant under the Equality Act 2010.

The judgment has significant implications for the protection of disabled tenants in private or social housing from eviction. 

Tenants in private tenancies and other insecure tenancies in the social sector (such as temporary accommodation) have virtually no security in housing law, even if they have disabilities. The court has no choice but to make an order for possession as long as landlords follow the correct eviction procedure. But now, where an Equality defence can be made, a landlord will have to justify the eviction as necessary and proportionate, otherwise the Court can decide that eviction should not go ahead.

The tenant in the Supreme Court case suffers from serious mental health problems. The council found him to be homeless in 2010, and accommodated him in temporary accommodation. However, the council discharged their duty to rehouse him after he refused offers of alternative accommodation. A claim for possession of the temporary accommodation was made to the courts. 

With Shelter’s help, he challenged the possession claim on the grounds that he was being treated unfavourably in being evicted, because his disability played a major part in his being unable to accept offers of accommodation and to move out of the temporary accommodation that had become his home. 

We argued that, contrary to the Equality Act 2010, his eviction was not necessary or proportionate because the housing association had a less harmful option when they started proceedings – they could have simply fulfilled their legal duty to another homeless person by letting him stay where he was and offered alternative accommodation to that other homeless person.

The Court of Appeal had previously decided that judges should make a summary judgment in cases of this kind, meaning that the court could make a decision at the first hearing, arguably without giving the disabled tenant a real opportunity to put their case fully before the court.

The Supreme Court found that, in the light of provisions in the Equality Act, a court considering a defence by a disabled tenant to a landlord’s claim for possession should take a ‘structured approach.’

In particular, judges considering a defence to a landlord’s possession must give attention to: 

  1. the landlord’s aims in taking the step to evict the tenant/occupier; 
  2. whether or not there is a rational link between the landlord’s aim and the proposed eviction of the disabled tenant;
  3. whether evicting the tenant is no more than is necessary to achieve that aim; and
  4. whether the eviction strikes a fair balance between the landlord’s aims and the disadvantages caused to the disabled person.

This judgment is likely to help disabled tenants in private or social housing, who are threatened with eviction where they have limited security, have no other defences, and the reason they are being evicted is linked to their disability

It will mean they have the opportunity to put forward a detailed case, and unless the landlord can justify eviction, the Courts may refuse to make a possession order, when previously it would have been all but inevitable. 

Michelle Crabbe, the Shelter Bristol solicitor involved in the case summed it up succinctly: “a major and significant step in this judgment towards ensuring that the rights of disabled tenants under the Equality Act to protection from unjustified eviction are properly considered by the courts.”

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10 Comments
  1. A compassionate judge ! Hooray !

  2. We have been given a 20 day “no cause” termination notice to move because the property manager does not like one of our neighbors and close friend that we refuse to turn our backs on and not allow in our house so we are being forced to move. My husband and I are both disabled! We sold our van to move in here three months ago because of place we lived at before was a real bad situation and this manager offered us this place if we paid her an extra $500 security deposit on top of the initial security deposit plus a pet deposit! $975 deposit and now we have to move and we have no car, no money, and I have just been diagnosed with cervical cancer and she doesn’t care! We are going to be homeless!!

  3. I have a cousin in Ohio,that has terrible heart problems.His son lives and takes care of him.They can not put them out he will die,and son on street.I live in Mississippi,how can I find some one to help them

  4. Hello,
    Is this another propaganda because I have been trying to get any legal and or mental healthservice Evo call dad regulatory authorities . Nobody cared dead matter Landlord is preaching every agreement and getting Away woth every repair maintenance default because for some reason is my hearings just loose support even when I have a lawyer and listed to take on.
    I presented myself the entire time nothing was against me at ghost because of the medication when I looked up my lawyer gave me away I presented myself the entire time nothing was against me and because of the medication. when I looked up my lawyer gave me away.
    No time to get upset I asked for resolution so he’s manager called me to tell me that my case is too expensive To pick up my case?.
    Nah ammmmm, here try this number.

  5. Please clarify the legal position re condition of schizophrenic HIV heroin and cocaine addiction. Does it qualify for an “Equality Defence”?

  6. I’m disabled and I was evicted from a council property for owing just £350

  7. I’m disabled & I have been giving an eviction notice. The manager just told me why I am being evicted. It is because of the mess there. On Aug 1 the roommate I had moved out. He was supposed to be helping me with cleaning up & doing laundry. He stopped helping me about 1 1/2 years ago. At first he said if I started he would help, but every time I got started he always seemed to have to leave. So I would end up putting everything I moved back because I couldn’t get it anywhere. Anyways on Aug 1 the roommate moved & on Aug 2, I got an eviction notice. No warning or anything reason. I did say that I don’t know how I was going to get the stuff all picked up & put away without help from anyone. People that I have gotten to know that live here have just offered me the help that I have been trying to get for months now. I don’t want to have to leave because of what someone else left me with. I have tried to get things done, but it hasn’t been easy. After I got most of the stuff in the kitchen done the roommate acted like he was the only one who had done it. I paid Big Time for what I did & it was not good at all. The roommate knows how much it hurts me to stand for any amount of time. I think it was really mean that he stopped helping me with cleaning. He was talking advantage of me because instead of paying $400 a month he wasn’t even paying $300 a month. The Only reason he was playing that amount was because of the help he was supposed to be giving me. It’s not right what I am having to go through because I Didn’t get the help I was supposed to have been getting. I’m going to have to move because of the help that I was not getting. It’s not fair at all!

  8. It’s the case everywhere. We faced the worst treatment by the landlord(viz. Weidner homes for the property – Desert Horizon at Scottsdale AZ). Rather than accommodating the needs of my disabled son – the landlord tricked us and got us evicted. Just google “save disabled son from eviction” to know all the details on the change dot org page.

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