An elderly couple’s attempt to give their disabled daughter a secure home for the foreseeable future came horribly unstuck and left her facing traumatic eviction – however, it could all have been very different had they sought appropriate legal advice.
The daughter suffered from a mental disorder which made her particularly upset by changes in her environment. Her parents had bought her a small property in which she could enjoy some independence. They bought the house with a mortgage and funded repayments with housing benefit received by their daughter which she paid to them under an assured shorthold tenancy.
However their plan contained a fundamental flaw, in that the terms of their mortgage forbade letting the property to a tenant ‘assisted by social security’. The lender's approval was also required before any tenancy could be granted in respect of the property and that had not been obtained.
The couple fell behind with the mortgage and the lender appointed receivers over the property who obtained a possession order from a judge. In challenging that order before the Court of Appeal, lawyers representing the daughter argued that it violated her human right to respect for her home and private life.
Expressing sympathy for the daughter, the Court acknowledged that there was clear medical evidence that she would suffer distress on having to leave the home that she had occupied since 2005 and that she might attempt to harm herself or even take her own life.
However, the evidence did not go so far as to assert that an enforced move would cause her lasting or irreversible harm. In dismissing her appeal, the Court noted that about £200,000 was owed under the mortgage and in legal costs. The receivers had the right to enter the property in order to realise the security in an efficient manner. In those circumstances, the possession order had been ‘mandatory’.