Osbornes successfully defends clients following action by Camden Council to take possession of home23 Sep 2014
On the 23rd September 2014, over two years since proceedings were issued by Camden Council, Housing and Social Care specialist, Edward Taylor, successfully argued at trial that Camden’s decision to seek possession is unlawful on public law grounds.
Osbornes Solicitors represented both Defendants after making a successful application for the Second Defendant to be added as a party to the proceedings. The First Defendant worked for Camden Council as a Residential Caretaker for over ten years and held a Service Tenancy for the property in question. The Second Defendant is the First Defendant’s partner and they have a seven year old daughter together.
The First Defendant resigned from his employment after being convicted of a drug-related offence. Camden Council subsequently served a Notice to Quit and brought possession proceedings. However, they did not first consider and apply their own allocations policy, which states that former Camden Council employees who have held Service Tenancies for over five years and who have not been dismissed will be awarded sufficient points by the Exceptions Panel to enable them to bid for a suitable property. They will qualify for the points if:
They have no other accommodation available to them; and
They would otherwise be accepted under Part VII, Housing Act 1996 as homeless and in priority need; or
They were Camden Council or housing association tenants immediately before becoming service tenant
The purpose of this section of Camden’s policy is to acknowledge the sacrifices made by Residential Caretakers who live in tied accommodation, rather than make their own home elsewhere, perhaps through buying a property. The policy is therefore designed to make sure long-standing employees with Services Tenancies do not suffer homelessness as a result of leaving their employment.
We contended that this paragraph applied to the First Defendant’s situation and as such that it should have been considered and a referral made to the Exceptions Panel. Camden unsuccessfully argued that this paragraph did not apply and further, and in the alternative it only applies if the former employee has made an application to the Exceptions Panel.
Her Honour Judge Baucher found that this paragraph does apply to former Residential Caretakers, as well as any other Camden Council employee with a Service Tenancy. She also commented that Camden should have on its own motion considered the application of this section of their policy. HHJ Baucher therefore decided that Camden Council had failed to apply or have proper regard to their allocations policy, and further to specific assurances given to the First Defendant in 2009.
As a result, the possession claim was dismissed. The Defendants will not lose their home and become street homeless. Instead, Camden will now have to properly apply their policy, which we hope will lead to the First Defendant being awarded sufficient points by the Exceptions Panel to enable him to bid for a suitable property for him, his partner and daughter.