Date: 19 June 2012
In an extremely important decision for Registered Providers, the Court of Appeal has dismissed an application by a tenant to appeal against the finding of the Altrincham County Court. An Irwell Valley Housing Association tenant had significant rent arrears. After she refused numerous opportunities to enter into reasonable payment plans, IVHA took action for possession of the property. A possession order was obtained, but the tenant applied to stay the warrant because she had obtained a Debt Relief Order (“DRO”) in respect debts including the arrears.
DROs are an alternative to bankruptcy. They last for 12 months and prevent creditors taking action to recover debts subject to the order. After 12 months, the debts are discharged.
The tenant's arguments, if successful, would have had far-reaching implications for all Registered Providers. A tenant could simply rack up arrears, obtain a DRO and hide behind it in the knowledge that their landlord could not recover possession of the property. The Court dismissed the tenant's application and she appealed.
Christopher Moss of St John's Buildings and the Eversheds Real Estate Team defended the tenant's appeal. They successfully defeated the tenant's arguments, but the tenant went on to apply twice to the Court of Appeal for permission to appeal. The tenant's applications were defeated on each occasion, thereby avoiding the significant costs of a full Court of Appeal hearing.
However, the tenant's actions meant that a possession order originally obtained in 2008 can only now be enforced.
Christopher continues to represent and advise landlord housing associations in the most challenging housing law cases, working in partnership with Eversheds and other specialists in this area of law.