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Landlord and Tenant: Birmingham City Council v Beech [2013] EWHC 518 QB

Birmingham City Council v Beech is the most recently reported case which confirms the difficulty of successfully defending a claim for possession on the basis of Art. 8 (respect for family life & home).

Birmingham CC ('C') let a 3 bedroom house on a joint tenancy to husband ('H') and wife ('W') in 1967. H died and W succeeded to the tenancy. H and W's daughter ('D') had lived in the property on an on/off basis since 1970. D returned to the property with her partner ('D2') in 2007 to look after W.

In 2009 W moved into a residential care home while D and D2 continued living in the property. W signed a notice to quit in 2010 and died that same year. C's policy was to allocate properties with 3 bedrooms only to those who really need a property of that size. C sought possession.

In terms of the Art. 8 defence, it was argued by D and D2 that (1) D had childhood links to the property; (2) both provided care to 3 neighbours and (3) W's grandchildren stayed at the property at weekends.

When Art. 8 is engaged, the relevant question is whether possession is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim?

The relevant principles are:

  • The threshold for establishing an arguable case that a local housing authority is acting disproportionately when seeking possession of public sector accommodation is a high one, only met in a small proportion of cases (Powell [2011] 2 WLR 287)
  • The facts relied on by the occupier of the property must be exceptional before a defence based on Art.8 can have a real prospect of success (Corby v Scott[2012] HLR 23)
  • The reasons why the threshold is so high lie in the public policy and public benefit inherent in the functions of the housing authority in dealing with its housing stock, a precious and limited public resource. (Thurrock v West [2012] EWCA Civ 1435)

In view of the above, the Judge held that there were no exceptional circumstances in Beech and granted possession.

Philippa Seal / 1st Apr 2013


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