Housing Update: Paragon Asra Housing Ltd v Neville [2018] EWCA Civ 1712

The Court of appeal gave judgment in this disability discrimination in housing case last week which is worthy of note for housing practitioners. The crux of the decision was that where a court had found that the making of a suspended possession order was proportionate (following the case of Akerman-Livingstone v Aster Communities [2015] UKSC 15), it did not have to reconsider the same question at the warrant stage unless there was a material change in circumstances.

The tenant suffered with behavioural and personality disorders and alleged that his anti social behaviour arose directly as a result of those disabilities and thus he was being discriminated against by virtue of the possession proceedings.  The trial judge found that the proceedings were a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim but suspended the possession order on terms (future compliance with the tenancy agreement).  Breaches occurred and an application was made to enforce the suspended order by the issue of a warrant of possession. The tenant applied to suspend the warrant but could not show any change in circumstances since the making of the suspended possession order.  The Judge refused the tenant’s application.  The tenant appealed and the warrant was suspended.

Paragon appealed the Recorder’s decision to the Court of Appeal where it was held that the trial judge had conducted the necessary proportionality inquiry and, in the absence of any material change in circumstances, it did not have to be conducted again.   It was an abuse of the Court’s process for the tenant to seek to re-open the lawfulness of the claim for possession.

The Court also considered Paragon’s alternative argument  and held that even if it was incorrect, the judge considering the application to suspend had considered that there would be no such discrimination, applying the proportionality test.

This is a useful case for those representing landlords where tenant’s seek to re-open discrimination arguments that have already been determined at trial.