An Important Case for Social Housing Landlords

May 23, 2016

Manchester District Housing Trust v Vincent Roberts

City West v Massey

Consolidated appeals

Court of Appeal

Before Lady Justice Arden, Lord Justice Sales, Lord Justice Floyd

Christopher Moss represented Manchester District Housing Association Limited in an important case for landlords and tenants alike. A tenant had been using his social housing as a cannabis farm. At first instance a District Judge had given a suspended possession order. Mr. Moss appealed that decision to HHJ Armitage in Manchester and was successful in overturning the first instance decision, the Judge granting an outright possession order. The tenant appealed and the case came before the three Lord and Lady Justices. Mr. Moss submitted that the test in Sandwell v Hensley should be tightened and more guidance issued to District Judges particularly in circumstances whereby the tenant has been dishonest and not shown any willingness to mend his ways. Mr. Moss argued that the test “cogent evidence which demonstrated a sound basis for the hope that the previous conduct (of cultivating cannabis) will cease” could not be passed by reliance on factors external to the tenant only (in line with the reasoning suggested by HHJ Armitage QC) and that there must be hope for the future that stemmed from the tenant himself which would be a difficult hurdle to surpass if the tenant has been dishonest throughout the proceedings.

Judgment is reserved.