The Central London County Court has dismissed a claim for possession from Brent Housing Partnership against a profoundly deaf man who had been living with his deaf partner until his death.
The defendant claimed to be entitled to succeed to his late deaf partner's council tenancy because they had lived together as if they were civil partners for the five years before his death.
Initially, the defendant was allowed to do this but it was found that his late partner had been claiming housing benefit as a single person and had not informed his GP or local authority of his relationship. Brent Housing Partnership then brought a claim for possession.
The defendant's partner, who died in 2010, was from Belfast and was reluctant to be open about his sexuality. At court, the Judge found that Brent Housing Partnership had failed to show the required 'delicacy and sensitivity' that such a case required, given how potentially devastating it could be should the defendant, a vulnerable disabled man, lose his home.
Debra Wilson, a Partner in Anthony Gold's housing team who acted for the defendant said, "A case which demonstrates that proceedings on the basis of "Might is Right" does not work. I am pleased to learn that the leader of Brent Council has become involved and is sending an apology to my client."
Speaking in the Brent & Kilburn Times Debra said, "This is a case that should not be taken at all against a very vulnerable person. He has been under a lot of stress and endured many sleepless nights over this. I'm not surprised because he faced the possibility of losing his home."
Debra Wilson undertook this case on a no win, no fee agreement at a time when success fees made it possible to run the risk. The LASPO Act means success fees are now deducted from any damages recovered. Debra said, "This case was never about any prospect of money being awarded to the tenant, so it would be impossible now for any practitioner to contemplate taking such a risk on this type of case."