The Supreme Court has granted the Residential Landlords Association permission to intervene in a high profile repossession case that could have far-reaching implications for private sector landlords.
The McDonald v McDonald case concerns receivers acting for a bank which wants to repossess a property from a defaulting private sector landlord under section 21 of the Housing Act 1988.
The landlord’s daughter is living in the property and is seeking to invoke an Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights – the right to respect for private and family life and home – to avoid being evicted.
Her bid failed at the Court of Appeal and she has now taken her fight to the Supreme Court.
The RLA, which has been monitoring the case, applied to intervene to explain the precedent the ruling could set, if the court finds in her favour.
It has now been given permission to make a written submission to the court.
The RLA believes that if the court finds in favour of tenant it will seriously undermine the existing Section 21 legislation and give tenants the opportunity to raise spurious defences under Article 8 in order to delay possession proceedings.
It fears that if the mandatory process becomes discretionary it will make it more difficult and expensive for landlords to evict tenants – with increased legal costs and the possibility of substantial rent arrears building up.
Barristers working on behalf of the RLA are currently preparing the submission, with the hearing due to take place in March.
Richard Jones, policy consultant and company secretary for the RLA said: “Landlords must feel that they are under attack on all sides at the moment.
“The private rented sector has become a key provider of residential accommodation as a result of landlords having the right to automatically repossess properties once a tenancy has ended on a “no fault basis” and also the right to evict tenants who have not paid their rent for at least two months.
“This case is of fundamental importance because it challenges these rights. If the tenant succeeds then we can expect defences being raised claiming human rights particularly to delay claims for possession. In the meantime rent arrears could be mounting.
“The RLA took the decision to intervene in this case to make sure that the Supreme Court was made aware of the consequences, as well as giving us the opportunity to challenge the tenant’s claims.”