Possession claim dismissed despite long absence abroad

Client,  abroad for years,  showed that her flat was still her main and principle home.

Our client was the tenant of a large housing association. She had resided in the premises since October 2006. Possession proceedings were issued alleging that she had been subletting her premises and had not been living there.

A long stay in Africa

A criminal investigation was also commenced against the client. The client’s case was that she resided in the premises with her two adult daughters but that she had gone on holiday to Africa to visit her relatives but had been forced to stay there for an extended period. This was because her sister’s son had died whilst the client was visiting. Shortly after that the sister herself had suffered a stroke. To cap it all the sister’s daughter had then died.

Unsurprisingly our client’s sister was completely bereft. As a result, the client had to organise her sister’s affairs. All this took a very long time. However, the client always  regarded her home in England as her main and principal home.

The flat was still occupied by family

Despite the allegation of subletting there was no evidence that anyone other than her two daughters had resided in the premises. Moss & Co were able to take witness statements from the client’s six children and from neighbours to confirm that despite her lengthy absence she regarded and used the premises as her main and principal home.

The defence

Evidence was also obtained from witnesses in Africa to confirm the deaths of the client’s nephew and niece. This witness statement was filed into court together with statements from her children and her neighbour. Inconsistencies in the landlord’s Court papers and witness statements were pointed out to the landlord’s solicitors.

Just before a two-day trial was due to start the landlords gave in and agreed:

  • The case to be adjourned generally
  • They paid our client’s costs
  • The client continued to use the premises as home
  • After one year the possession proceedings would stand dismissed.

The law

Social landlords often believe that their tenants are living elsewhere. That they are subletting the council home, even making a profit out of it. If that is true then they will be entitled to possession on the ground that the tenant is no longer using the property as their main or principle home.  Further the council can bring proceedings under the Social Housing Prevention of Fraud Act 2013 including claims for possession and profit orders requiring repayment of rents received.

These cases are always complex but Narinder Moss is a leading solicitor in the field with many successful cases.

Unlawful subletting expert

Narinder Moss conducted this case

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