26/06/2011

Dealing, closure and possession

Hammersmith and Fulham LBC v Forbes Willesden County Court 14 April 2011

While we are on County Court proceedings based on drugs and nuisance (see the previous post), this is a possession case following closure orders and allegations of dealing. Hat tip to ‘Recent Developments in Housing Law’ Legal Action June 2011 for the details.

Mr Forbes was Hammersmith’s secure tenant and had lived in the property for 31 years. He was a heroin addict. There were no nuisance issues prior to June 2010. Between June and October 2010 residents made complaints that Mr F was dealing drugs. The police raided and found a small quantity of heroin. Mr F was charged with possession of a class A drug and pleaded guilty.

The police and Council obtained a closure order for 3 months, extended for a further 3 months by the Magistrates Court. The evidence for the closure order was principally anonymous witness statements by residents and CCTV evidence of a number of visitors to the property.

Hammersmith sought possession on the basis of the same evidence, with further evidence in the form of anonymous statements mentioning the improvement in the area since the closure order.

During the period of the closure order, Mr F had made serious efforts to address his addiction, although there was some relapse as he was of no fixed abode due to the closure order.

At trial DJ Morris decided that on the balance of evidence, Mr F was a drug user who had allowed his home to be used by others for dealing. This had caused a nuisance to the neighbours. However, the DJ was satisfied Mr F was not a dealer himself. He ordered a suspended possession order on strict terms, with a review after 3 months to further address Mr F’s progress in addressing his addiction and any further occurrence of nuisance.

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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