Our deputy head of the housing team, David Araya, acted for a vulnerable tenant who approached us in December 2020, after being served a notice of seeking possession by his social housing landlord. The landlord sought a possession order on the basis our client that breached the terms of his tenancy for growing cannabis in his home.
The client suffers from severe mental health issues including PTSD, anxiety and a personality disorder. He also suffers from chronic back pain, tinnitus and sleeping difficulties. Conventional medication did not assist him, and so to manage his physical pain, poor mental health and sleeping problems he medicated with cannabis. Because of the Covid-19 pandemic he was unable to buy this on the street, and so he decided to grow a small number of cannabis plants for his personal use. He was registered as a medicinal cannabis patient through the Cancard scheme.
Due to mental health concerns, the Police attended his property and found the cannabis plants. Our client immediately admitted the cannabis was for his own medical use, and he accepted a caution. The social housing landlord were aware of the client’s mental health conditions and they were also aware that although he was using cannabis, it was for medical purposes.
Three months later the landlord served the notice and the client reached out to us for advice. He told us that he was:
“extremely anxious and worried about the situation, but after a short conversation with David was made to feel a lot calmer”.
We made immediate representations under the Equality Act 2010 and argued that, in seeking his eviction due to his use of medicinal cannabis, the landlord’s actions would constitute unlawful disability discrimination. It was up to the landlord to establish that seeking any form of possession order was a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.
After we supplied the landlord with medical evidence and supporting letters from the client’s neighbour, they agreed to discontinue the possession claim and the client will now keep his home.
The client felt that:
“this was the best possible result for me in a situation that should not have happened in the first place”.
That being said, his situation is not yet resolved because of the importance of medicinal cannabis for easing his pain and the impact that the threat of eviction had on his mental health. We are now advising him about seeking compensation from the landlord for disability discrimination, and making a request for reasonable adjustment to allow him to use cannabis in his home for medicinal purposes, without this being deemed a breach of his tenancy terms.
Kindly, the client let us know that:
“David's help and advice was second to none, his work was extremely professional, constantly updating me and talking me through everything, responding quickly and generally a nice person to deal with.” He added that he would “highly recommend David if you have any housing issues”.