A disabled tenant of temporary social housing, who was too sick to engage in the process of finding him a permanent new home, has failed to convince the Court of Appeal that his eviction would violate his right to equal treatment.
The tenant suffered from prolonged duress stress disorder and was agreed to be ‘a very sick man’. Following a period of homelessness, his local council accepted that it was under a duty to house him and placed him temporarily in a flat owned by a social housing provider.
Due to his condition, he was wholly unable to cope with the challenge of choosing a permanent new address and, after making several offers, the council ultimately took the view that it had discharged the duty that it owed him. The council subsequently required the provider to take proceedings to evict him from the flat so that it could be made available to another homeless person.
The tenant argued that the attempt to evict him amounted to disability discrimination in breach of the Equality Act 2010. However, a judge ruled that he had no viable defence and granted the provider an immediate possession order.
In dismissing his appeal, the Court noted that there was a powerful public interest in enabling social landlords to reach their own decisions on how to allocate their finite housing stocks. He had recently turned down a further offer of permanent accommodation although it had not been shown to be unsuitable for him.
Taken to its extreme, the tenant’s argument would place an unreasonable burden on the provider in that it would mean he could never be evicted unless his disability was treated and resolved. There was also no suggestion that he would suffer ‘serious or lasting harm’ as a result of the possession order.