In a ruling which is bound to cause consternation amongst social housing providers, the Court of Appeal has refused to order the eviction of a single mother who told a pack of lies after 300 cannabis plants were found in her spare bedroom.
The mother had told a judge that she was entirely unaware of the thriving cannabis farm under her roof. She claimed not to have noticed the powerful smell of cannabis pervading her home or a humming noise generated by growing equipment. She said that the criminal operation was the handiwork of her partner, whom she had permitted to store his belongings in the bedroom.
After the cannabis farm was uncovered in a police raid, her social landlords launched possession proceedings. The judge did not believe a word of the mother’s account but refused to issue an immediate possession order on the basis that the motive for her lies was her fear of losing her home. A suspended possession order was made on condition that she did not again welcome her partner into her home or allow him to keep his possessions there.
In challenging that ruling, the landlord pointed to the scarcity of social housing and argued that tenants who allow their homes to be used for criminal purposes should be dealt with firmly. Given the lies that she had told, she could not be trusted to comply with the condition concerning her partner and the landlord did not have the resources to keep tabs on her.
Dismissing the appeal, however, the Court could find no fault in the judge’s exercise of discretion on the particular facts of the case. Her position as a single mother of three young children had rightly been considered and there was a sound basis for hope that she would be able to keep her partner away from her home.