Readers may be interested to learn that I have been contacted by a landlord who tells me that his tenant is defending, or rather seeking to overturn, a possession order obtained via the accelerated procedure under section 21, under the provisions of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995. This is the very situation I was concerned about when I wrote my earlier posting on the Malcolm case.
The landlord brought the claim after it became apparent that the tenant was spending her housing benefit on other things, although this was not specified in the particulars of claim, which (as is usual) gave no reason for the claim other than that the notice had been properly drafted and served and that the tenant had not vacated. Her lawyers however are claiming that the reason why she has not paid her rent is because she is suffering from a mental disorder, and therefore the landlords action in evicting her is discriminatory and unlawful.
The landlord is aghast at this claim, as if it succeeds he is faced with the prospect of this tenant remaining in his property indefinitely, free of charge. How, he asks, is he expected to pay his mortgage and other expenses on the property? Is this really what the draftsmen of the DDA 1995 intended?
The tenant is in receipt of legal aid and the landlord has been told by her lawyers that they will fight the case all the way to the European Court if necessary. The poor landlord however has no legal assistance and is unable to afford expensive legal fees (particularly as he is not receiving rent!).
If this claim succeeds, bearing in mind that the landlord had no idea that the tenant was suffering any mental problems, it will have serious repercussions throughout the whole of the letting industry. The landlord has agreed to keep me informed of the outcome of the case.