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Supreme Court hears landmark repossession case

Sally Walmsley
Written by Sally Walmsley

The Supreme Court will today hear the case of McDonald v McDonald – a high profile repossession case in which the tenant is battling to avoid eviction on human rights grounds.
The 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.
However 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.

The Supreme Court has heard the case of McDonald v McDonald – a high profile repossession case in which the tenant is battling to avoid eviction on human rights grounds.

The 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.

However 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.

The tenant’s bid failed at the Court of Appeal and she has now taken her fight to the Supreme Court.

The Residential Landlords Association, which has submitted written evidence, is the only organisation intervening on behalf of private sector landlords – with no other landlords association or lettings agents getting involved in the complex case.

The RLA believes that if the court finds in favour of the tenant it will undermine existing Section 21 legislation and give tenants the opportunity to raise spurious defences under Article 8 to delay possession proceedings.

However David Smith, policy director at the RLA has reassured members that even if the court finds in the tenant’s favour it is likely Article 8 would only apply in the most exceptional of cases.

He said: “Our evidence set out the fact that Article 8 shouldn’t apply, and that the ruling could potentially have a significant effect on landlords.

“However we would like to make it clear that even if the Supreme Court finds in favour of the tenant in this instance the specific circumstances are so extreme that it is unlikely such a ruling would set a precedent.

“Even if the defence was allowed to be raised, the chances are that it would rarely, if ever, succeed.”

The case was heard on Tuesday, with the Supreme Court expected to announce its ruling next month.

About the author

Sally Walmsley

Sally Walmsley

Sally Walmsley is the Magazine and Digital Editor for the NRLA. With 20 years’ experience writing for regional and national newspapers and magazines she is responsible for editing our members' magazine 'Property', producing our articles for our news site, the weekly and monthly bulletins and editorial content for our media partners.

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