You are a fortunate landlord if you’ve never had to apply for a possession order. But did you know it could be suspended? In this month’s column, Alex Byard explains why...
When a tenant is in breach of your agreement, you can apply for possession and an order should be granted if you have presented a satisfactory case.
Although the Housing Act 1998 sets out the grounds under which you can gain control of your property, there are occasions when the court sees fit to suspend possession. Here are a couple of examples:
City West Housing Trust wanted a mother and three children to vacate their flat because her partner was cultivating cannabis. The tenant claimed she didn’t know what the room was used for and although the judge doubted her evidence, he granted a suspended order with strict conditions.
In a similar case, Manchester and District Housing Trust tried to evict a tenant for allowing cannabis to be grown in his flat. He claimed a gang was threatening him and the bedroom was padlocked, so again, the possession order was suspended. However, it was overturned at appeal because there was no sound evidence to prove the conduct would cease.
The Court of Appeal set out the following guidance to help outline when a suspended possession order would be used:
There must be cogent evidence to give the court hope the previous conduct will not recur.
Landlords may be expected, in some circumstances, to take an active role in monitoring the tenant.
The courts will consider whether there is a sound basis for believing the tenant will change his ways.
Courts can exercise discretion and must determine if the tenant’s evidence is to be accepted.
Reasons must be given to justify granting a suspended possession order.
Clearly, if you want to evict a difficult tenant, this is not the outcome you desire. To ensure you put forward a solid argument for possession, always seek professional advice.
Alex Byard is a specialist in property litigation at Sheffield’s Taylor&Emmet LLP. For more information, telephone (0114) 218 4000, visit www.tayloremmet.co.uk and www.landlorddisputes.co.uk or follow the firm on Twitter @te_propertylaw.