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Mental Illness and Secure Tenancies – Court Guidance

Published: 25 August 2014, in categories: Landlord and Tenant Updates | Legal Updates | News and Updates

Mental Illness and Secure Tenancies – Court Guidance

A woman suffering from paranoid schizophrenia who fiercely objected to giving up her secure council tenancy so that she could be moved into a sheltered home has had the decision taken out of her hands following a High Court ruling.

The woman had a history of mental breakdowns and failing to take her medication. Subject to paranoid delusions, she had repeatedly been admitted to mental hospitals and was currently living in an NHS treatment centre. However, she had never accepted the nature of her mental illness or her need for treatment.

The council’s plan was to move her into sheltered accommodation where she could be supervised 24 hours a day. However, before that could happen, she would have to give up her secure tenancy on her flat, and that she had refused to do. She valued the privacy, security and independence that the property gave her.

The woman’s condition was currently stable and the Court accepted that she had put forward rational reasons for her reluctance to give up her home. However, her inability to recognise the nature of her illness indicated that she lacked the mental capacity to make certain important decisions for herself.

Noting medical evidence that it would be too dangerous for the woman to live on her own, the Court found that her ability to weigh up competing factors was compromised and that she was in danger of reaching an ‘unwise’ decision. Argument as to whether it would be in the woman’s best interests to terminate her tenancy without her consent was left over for another day.

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