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11/04/2011

An opportunity to reform

Hat tip to Legal Action’s Recent Developments in Housing Law for letting us know about this one.

Westlea Housing Association v Price, Swindon County Court, 20 & 21 Jan 2011

An ASB possession case, successfully defended at least partly on the basis that the landlord had failed to give support or seek intervention by social services or others, despite knowing something of the situation.

Ms P was a former street worker and recovering heroin addict. In 2007, the Claimant gave her an assured tenancy of a flat. In 2010, possession proceedings were brought under ground 14, schedule 2, Housing Act 1988 (ASB). There were 39 allegations, involving noise, loud music, fighting, late night parties, use of cannabis and attendance of police at the flat.

In her defence, Ms P admitted many of the allegations, acknowledged her part in them and promised to improve her behaviour. In evidence, it became clear that Ms P’s boyfriend, who had been arrested and imprisoned for assaulting her, had played a significant part in the disturbances.

The District Judge found 17 instances of noise or music proved, two of which involved cannabis. Four instances related to arguments, apparently involving domestic violence. One instance of nuisance also found proven. The DJ noted a change since November 2010, following the violent boyfriend’s imprisonment.

The DJ concluded that

…much of what gives rise to these proceedings has been associated with events in which Ms Price was the victim of domestic violence and I accept that she has problems with alcohol and depression and may have poor social functioning… [The] housing association appears the have given her very little support or guidance despite knowing enough of her background to have been able to recognise that some intervention or social work referral would have been appropriate.

The DJ held it was not reasonable to make any possession order and it would not have been right to make a demotion order. Claim dismissed, apparently on no order for costs.

 

Giles Peaker is a solicitor and partner in the Housing and Public Law team at Anthony Gold Solicitors in South London. You can find him on Linkedin and on Twitter. Known as NL round these parts.

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