Secure Tenancy

July 29th, 2019 by James Goudie KC

In general, a secure tenancy cannot be brought to an end and possession obtained unless the local authority has both established one or more of the grounds set out in Schedule 2 to the consolidating Housing Act 1985 (“HA 1985”) and served a Notice pursuant to Section 83 of HA 1985.  The form that such a Notice must take is prescribed by Regulations.

Yildiz v Hackney LBC (2019) EWCA Civ 1331 concerned Ground 15A.  That may arise when the accommodation afforded is more extensive than is reasonably required by the tenant.  However, the Notice of the proceedings for possession must be served under Section 83 more than 6 months but less than 12 months after the “relevant date”, being the date of the previous tenant’s death.

The tenant’s father had occupied a four bedroom house.  Following his father’s death the tenant succeeded to the tenancy. He was under-occupying. The Council served a Notice seeking possession. That was in June 2015.  They did not however issue possession proceedings until August 2016.

Had by then the Notice lapsed?  Yes, say the Court of Appeal, it had lapsed. Nor could the requirement be dispensed with.  Since the proceedings had been issued neither within 12 months of the father’s death, nor during the currency of the Notice,  Ground 15A could not be relied upon.

Newey LJ said:-

“16. … Where a landlord brings proceedings for possession relying on ground 15A, notice of those proceedings must, as I see it, have been served under section 83 less than 12 months after the “relevant date”. Section 83 provides, however, for a notice to cease to be in force 12 months after the date specified in it. The better view, I think, is that that means that a notice cannot constitute notice of proceedings begun more than 12 months later than the specified date. In other words, it is not good enough that the landlord at some stage, however long ago, served a notice which, pursuant to both its own terms and those of section 83, is now spent. A notice must still be current if a landlord is to issue possession proceedings on the strength of it. In the absence of a relevant notice (because either none was ever served or any notice that was served had expired), a claim for possession based on ground 15A will be possible only if the proceedings were begun less than 12 months after the “relevant date”.”

This interpretation of Ground 15A accords with the fact that the time provisions are there to ensure that the succeeding relative is not disturbed so much later than the death that he/she is settled into the property as his/her long-term home.

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