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Eviction without a court order

In R (ZH) v Newham LB; R (CN) v Lewisham LB [2014] UKSC 62, the Supreme Court has reaffirmed that, as a general principle, s. 3(2B) of the Protection from Eviction Act 1977 does not apply to licences granted by a local authority

...to occupy property as temporary accommodation pursuant to s.188 of the Housing Act 1996. Section 188 imposes on local authorities an interim duty to accommodate in cases of apparent priority need pending a decision as to what housing duty, if any, they owe.The basis of the decision is that premises subject to such a licence are not “occupied as a dwelling” within the meaning of s. 3(2B). These words address the purpose of the licence rather than the use of the property by the occupier. Therefore, an occupier under such a licence can be evicted without the need for a court order. The reasoning of the decision also applies to temporary accommodation provided under ss.190(2), 200(1) and 204(4) of the 1996 Act.

A key limitation of the decision is that there was no suggestion that the legal basis of the applicants’ occupation had changed since the licences were granted. Therefore the court was only concerned with the purpose of the licences at the time they were granted.

The position may be different if a licence is superseded by a later contract, either express or inferred from the parties’ actions, which provides for a different user. Alternatively, if an occupier remains for a period no longer reasonably referable to the decision to accommodate him temporarily, he may gain the protection of the 1977 Act. This may occur if the occupier is permitted to remain in accommodation on a more than transient basis: Rogerson v Wigan Metropolitan Borough Council [2005] HLR 129; Mohamed v Manek (1995) 27 HLR 439.

The court also concluded that, whilst the occupier’s rights under art. 8 of the ECHR were engaged, they did not require court proceedings or a court order to evict an occupier provided temporary accommodation under s. 188. The procedural safeguards in the 1996 Act, procedures available under the Children Act 1989 and the possibility of judicial review of an authority’s decision under s.202 of the 1996 Act were sufficient to comply with art. 8.

Winston Jacob / 1st Dec 2014


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