We represented a council tenant in possession proceedings based on rent arrears. T had suffered with mental health issues for a large part of their tenancy and had been in and out of hospital. Arrears of rent had accrued due to rent arrears arising due to difficulties in managing their affairs due to their mental health. Possession proceedings were issued and at a first hearing which T did not attend due to being unwell, an outright order for possession was made. Steps were then taken to evict T. We were instructed at that point and made applications to set aside the possession order and suspend the eviction. Medical evidence was produced showing the extent of T’s mental health issues and how the arrears had arisen as a result. Notwithstanding this the Council sought to oppose both applications. We were however successful on the applications and directions were then made to enable us to file and serve a defence to the claim for possession and also counterclaim for damages for injury to feeling arising as a result of disability discrimination. Despite further medical evidence being filed and served which further highlighted T’s difficulties and which showed a clear causal link between their mental health impairment and the accrual of rent arrears the Council would not conceded and pressed the matter on for trial. We were subsequently able to uncover evidence which showed that the Council had been aware of T’s mental health issues since at least 2013 and that she was noted on their systems as being disabled. We were also able to highlight failures to comply with its own vulnerable tenants policy. Shortly before trial the Council agreed to concede with the possession claim being dismissed and the Council paying damages and costs.
If you’re facing possession proceedings please contact our specialist housing team.