Hat tip to Legal Action ‘Recent Developments in Housing Law’ for this one.
Watford Community Housing Trust v Personal Representatives of Elizabeth Chalmers, Watford County Court 14 January 2011
This was a possession claim under Ground 9 Schedule 2 Housing Act 1988 – Suitable Alternative Accommodation.
The property had been let to William Chalmers in 1967 by Watford BC. He became a secure tenant in 1980. He died in 1996 and his wife Elizabeth succeeded to the tenancy. She died in 2004. Her granddaughter, as executor of the will, remained in the property paying rent.
In 2007, following a stock transfer, the claimant became the landlord. It was accepted that as an occupying personal representative of the former secure tenant, the granddaughter became the assured tenant of the property.
The Housing Trust brought the current claim in January 2009, the reason being underoccupation of the 4 bed semi-detached house. The Trust made offers of 5 other properties which it said were suitable. The granddaughter refused to view them.
It was agreed in the claim that the granddaughter had resided in the property since her birth in 1968 and that she suffered from depression and panic attacks. The granddaughter defended the claim on the basis that she did not want to leave her home of 43 years and none of the properties offered were suitable.
At trial, the District Judge considered the mandatory factors in Part III of Schedule 2.
Proximity to work was satisfied as, when the tenant worked, she did so in central London and the move only meant another 100 yards to the station.
In respect of means, the alternative accommodation was less expensive.
In respect of extent, the last property offered was a spacious flat. However, it did not have a garden. The green space around the block was not suitable at all as a replacement for the garden at the property where the defendant could relax, garden and let her cats roam.
As to character and environment, the alternative and the current property were ‘chalk and cheese’. The alternative was on an estate which had had negative press reports over the last decade, while the current property was in a quiet, secluded corner next to a park, and had a front and back garden.
The DJ held the alternative property was not suitable, so there was no need to proceed to consider reasonableness. Claim dismissed.