Disability discrimination and enforcement of possession: Court of Appeal clarity for landlordsPrint publication
Karl Anders explains why Paragon Asra Housing Ltd v James Neville  provides welcome clarity for landlords dealing with disabled tenants.
Court of Appeal ends long-standing confusion
The Court of Appeal has held that, where a court has decided that making a possession order against a disabled tenant would be proportionate and not discriminatory , that question does not have to be considered again when it comes to enforcement of the order, unless there has been a relevant material change in circumstances.
The Court of Appeal has also confirmed that, in reaching its decision on proportionality when assessing whether to make a possession order, it is sufficient for a court to have applied the Akerman-Livingstone proportionality test  in substance, even if the four-stage structured approach referred to in that case has not been specifically followed. (In substance, that Akerman-Livingstone proportionality test asks: is the eviction sufficiently important to justify limiting the tenant’s fundamental rights; and is the requested possession order rationally connected to, and no more than necessary to achieve that justified objective?)
Landlords dealing with disabled tenants – including those with mental health issues and behavioural difficulties (as was the case here) – will be relieved to note the Court of Appeal’s practical approach to the court’s initial proportionality assessment; and also to what is required at the enforcement stage in the absence of any material change. The enforcement aspect of the decision should also reduce costs and the administrative burden on landlords who seek to enforce a right to possession as a means of balancing the needs of one disabled tenant with those of other tenants and visitors to whom they also have a responsibility in the locality.
  EWCA Civ 1712
 In accordance with section 15 Equality Act 2010
 Akerman-Livingstone v Aster Communities Ltd  UKSC 15; and see our earlier briefing.