Our client and daughter were homeless and provided with temporary accommodation under a periodic assured shorthold tenancy with Genesis Housing Association in October 2017. A s.21 notice was served in February 2018 and the covering letter to this stated that this was being done as GHA let the property from a private landlord and might need to return the property. GHA merged with Notting Hill Housing Trust in or about April 2018 and became Notting Hill Genesis. By this time our client had accrued rent arrears and so NHG proceeded to issue possession proceedings in late June 2018 under the accelerated possession procedure. In addition the Council also issued a decision discharging duty on the basis that the client was intentionally homeless from her temporary accommodation.
Our client suffered with depression, anxiety and PTSD and had an impaired ability to manage her affairs as a result. She also suffered a bleed on her brain in October 2018.
In September 2018 a possession order was made on the papers without a hearing. NHG then took steps to enforce the possession order and evict our client. An eviction was scheduled to take place on 28 March 2019. We were instructed in early March and made applications to suspend the eviction and set aside the possession order on the basis that:-
- NHG did not have locus standi as the tenancy was granted by GHA and there was no evidence that s.3 LTA 1985 had been complied with; and
- The possession proceedings arose out of our client’s rent arrears which had arisen in consequence of her disability. NHG had therefore committed disability discrimination contrary to s.15 and 35 Equality Act 2010;
- In taking steps to enforce the warrant for possession and to evict our client NHG has failed to have due regard to its duties under Section 149 of the Equality Act 2010 and had failed to discharge the PSED.
The warrant was suspended pending hearing of the set aside application. That hearing took place on 10 May 2019 when the Court set aside the possession order. Our client now has an opportunity to lodge a fully pleaded defence. We were also able to challenge the Council decision to discharge duty and that decision has since been withdrawn.