Forbes v Lambeth LBC [2003] EWHC 222 (Admin)

Housing – possession proceedings – introductory tenancy – notice

In March 2000, the authority granted the defendant an introductory tenancy under Part V, Housing Act 1996. On 13 October 2000, the authority served notice of proceedings under s128 of the 1996 Act, on the ground that the tenant was selling drugs at the property. The tenant requested a review of the authority’s decision.

On 23 October 2000, following the review, the authority sent the tenant a letter, stating: ‘The Council has decided not to proceed with terminating your tenancy but will be monitoring your tenancy for a period of 12 months and then will review the situation and advise you.’

On 9 March 9 2001, following complaints of noise and disturbance at the property, the authority wrote to the tenant telling her that because of the complaints which they had received, the authority had decided to continue the legal proceedings against her. The authority issued proceedings relying on the notice dated 13 October 2000.

At the possession hearing, the County Court rejected the tenant’s argument that the court had no jurisdiction to make a possession order but adjourned the proceedings so that the tenant could seek judicial review of the authority’s decision to evict the tenant.

The tenant appealed to the High Court and the application for judicial review was heard at the same time. On the appeal, the authority argued that after the authority had reversed their decision on review, the authority had to serve a new notice of proceedings under s128 before possession proceedings could be brought. The authority argued that the letter of October 23 did not quash the earlier decision to evict the tenant. Rather, the letter confirmed the authority’s decision to evict the tenant but deferred taking any action against the tenant as long as she behaved properly.

The Court allowed the tenant’s appeal. The decision letter made it clear that the authority had decided not to terminate the tenancy. The court had no jurisdiction to hear the possession proceedings. Accordingly, it was not necessary to decide the claim for judicial review.

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