Possession Claims – Case Law Update

Reading Borough Council v Holland (2023) EWHC 1902 (Ch)

The Tenant appealed a possession order made in the County Court relating to an introductory tenancy. The Court of Appeal considered the Landlord’s PSED and the balancing exercise on proportionality undertaken by the County Court Judge.

The Tenant was diagnosed with Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder according to her medical evidence, this being a disability within the meaning of s6 Equality Act 2010. There was also a connection between the Tenant’s conduct, as alleged by the Landlord, but not one which absolved the Appellant from responsibility. The Landlord was aware of the Tenant’s disability from inception of the Tenancy.

There were extensive complaints of Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB) made by the Landlord’s staff, contractors and neighbours. The property was in a sheltered housing scheme for over 55s and some of the complainant’s neighbours were elderly and vulnerable, with some asking to leave for fear of the Tenant’s ASB.

At Appeal, the Court considered:

  1. Whether the County Court Judge was correct at that point to find that the Landlord had complied with its public sector equality duty (PSED) in deciding to bring a claim for possession, given the acknowledged disability of Ms H and the effect of eviction and homelessness upon her;

  • The Court of Appeal held that the County Court Judge was correct to find there were deficiencies in the Landlord’s Equality Act assessment, but that PSED did not have to be in the form of one single exercise. The Judge was correct to find that the Landlord had in mind the impact of homelessness on the Tenant – there were various multi-agency records of meetings discussing the same:


  1. Whether the County Court Judge was right to find that eviction was a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim, without requiring that suitable alternative accommodation be available in the same town.

  • The Court of Appeal held that the County Court Judge had been right to find that up until shortly before the possession hearing, the Tenant had requested a move to another area which the Landlord had tried to arrange, albeit unsuccessfully.

  • Also, the Tenant had been evicted from her previous accommodation, and was then housed in temporary accommodation, prior to being moved to this property. The previous accommodation had problems also, and before that the Tenant had been in private rented property where she was evicted for reasons including ASB. The County Court Judge was entitled to take this into account when considering what was required of the Landlord’s compliance with its PSED. The Landlord was entitled to conclude that eviction was the only option, all other options having effectively been exhausted. In addition, the Landlord did not have other accommodation in the same town that would mitigate or remove the problems for and with the Tenant.

The same points applied when considering proportionality.

The Appeal also considered there was insufficient evidence of consideration by the Landlord of the possibility of finding suitable alternative accommodation for the Tenant within the same town. As a result, it was claimed that the County Court Judge was not equipped with the evidence she required to properly to consider the Proportionality Issue, and thereby wrong in her consideration of the Proportionality Issue. The Court of Appeal rejected the Tenant’s argument and held there was sufficient evidence for the County Court Judge to properly consider proportionality, which was a balancing exercise for the Judge.

The findings regarding the Tenant’s impact on staff and other residents were serious, as were the potential ongoing risks and dangers which were an integral part of the balancing exercise which the Judge was required to carry out. The risks and dangers of allowing the Tenant to remain in the property, which the County Court Judge saw as very serious in considering whether it was actually feasible to find some other suitable alternative accommodation for the Tenant. The Landlord did not consider this to be feasible either before or after an offer was made.

The Tenant’s Appeal was dismissed.

Lloyd v North & Ors (2023) EWHC 1497 (KB)

The Defendant was made subject to a possession order by the County Court in relation to her Licence, which the Claimant said that she had breached. The Defendant sought permission to appeal the possession order, which was refused by the Court of Appeal.

Subsequently, the Defendant sued the Claimant, seeking compensation for the eviction. The claim was struck out and the Defendant applied for permission to appeal this decision also. The Defendant was a Litigant in Person.

The Defendant claimed that the Circuit Judge, and the Court of Appeal Judge in the possession proceedings, were wrong, that she had suffered extreme injustice, that the CPR had been abused and that she had not been allowed to state her case at the appeal.

The Application was refused.

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