Discrimination between death and divorce?

Samawi v Haringey LBC, Claim no: A01EC488, 3 July 2015 Central London County Court

Thanks to an Arden Chambers eflash comes news of a County Court case with interesting potential repercussions, albeit probably some way down the line.

Mr Samawi was in many respects, a failed second successor. His father had been granted a secure tenancy by Haringey in the 1990s. On the father’s death, his mother succeeded to the tenancy. After the death of his mother, Mr Samawi faced possession proceedings by Haringey on the basis that he had no right to occupy the property.

The main ground Mr Samawi’s defence focused on a distinction between s,88(1)(e) and s.88(2) Housing Act 1985.

By s.88(1)(e) a person who becomes a sole tenant because the tenancy vests in him/her on the death of the previous tenant – commonly a widow – is a successor. (Call this person the widow for this case)

But under s.88(2) a person who becomes a sole tenant because the tenancy is transferred to him or her in the context of relationship breakdown proceedings is not a successor. (Call this person the ex)

The widow and her potential successors are treated by the law less beneficially than the ex and her potential successors.

Mr Samawi’s defence was that this difference in treatment in s.88 had no rational basis or objective justification and was contrary to Art.14, given that his mother’s status as a widow was a status for the purposes or Art 14.

At first instance, a District Judge found the defence not seriously arguable, but on appeal, a Circuit Judge found that the defence was arguable and remitted the matter for trial.

I strongly suspect that whatever the final decision at trial, this one will be heading to appeal. It will be worth keeping an eye on, and maybe a stay application in similar cases.

About Giles Peaker

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, and still is Nearly Legal on Google +.
Posted in Housing law - All, Possession, secure-tenancy, Succession.

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