Councils seeking to evict disabled tenants who breach their tenancy agreement as a result of their condition risk being sued for unlawful discrimination after a new ruling.
In the Court of Appeal, a council tenant, who has schizophrenia, successfully challenged Lewisham Council’s decision to evict him after he sub-let his flat when he did not have “sufficient appreciation” of what he was doing.
The tenant, known as Mr Malcolm, exercised his right to buy but the process was delayed over two years during which he lost his job and stopped taking his medication. He breached his secure tenancy by sub-letting his flat.
The court ruled that the housing enforcement team were unaware of the tenant’s mental health problems and that his social worker was concerned about his wellbeing.
Agnes Fletcher, director of policy and communications at the Disability Rights Commission welcomed the ruling. “As Mr Malcolm’s case vividly illustrates, bad internal communications meant the issues around his tenancy weren’t dealt with appropriately, which led to discriminatory actions by the council. Councils are under a duty to promote equality for disabled people and ensuring better communications and anti-discrimination policies are in place is fundamental to achieving that.”
Susan Gronbach, Mr Malcolm’s solicitor, said the ruling was an important landmark case that would “fundamentally” affect the tenancies of potentially thousands of disabled people and people with long-term health conditions.
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