Brent Council slammed by judge for trying to evict vulnerable tenant out of his home
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Housing chiefs have been slammed by a judge for trying to evict a vulnerable tenant out of his council home in Brent.
The deaf and gay man faced being thrown out on to the streets after his long-term partner died and he was refused the right to succeed the tenancy on the home.
The man, who wishes to be anonymous, was in a committed relationship until his partner, who is originally from Belfast, Northern Ireland, died from prostate cancer in 2010.
Brent Housing Partnership, who manages council homes in the borough, pursued the tenant through the courts and last month a judge refused to grant them a possession order which would have forced him to leave his home.
BHP have refused to disclose the cost of their legal action but it could run into five figures.
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His Honour Judge Lochrane, sitting at Central London County Court, criticised BHP for not assessing the case with the necessary “delicacy and sensitivity” it required.
Lawyers acting for the tenant claimed the couple had been living together in a committed relationship, akin to a civil partnership, for several years but had difficulty in communicating with anyone other than the deaf lesbians and gay community because of their condition.
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However, BHP maintained they had not been alerted to the relationship and argued that couples living together must be “open” with the local authority and not just within their own community.
Debra Wilson, of Anthony Gold solicitors, the tenant’s solicitor said: “This is a case that should not be taken at all against a very vulnerable person. “He (the tenants) has been under a lot of stress and endured many sleepless nights over this.
“I’m not surprised because he faced the possibility of losing his home.”
Following the ruling BHP requested the option to appeal which was refused.
The defence issued a stern warning against BHP attempting to overturn the refusal, suggesting it would cause “undoubted outrage” amongst, the gay, lesbian and deaf community as well as tax paying borough residents.
A BHP spokesman told the Times they will not appeal the decision.
He added: “At this stage, we are not able to provide the exact costs that we will have to pay towards the defendant’s legal costs, as this will be subject to negotiation and a detailed assessment in due course.”
Cllr Muhammed Butt, leader of Brent Council, has expressed his regret over the pursuit of the case.
Adding they had sent a letter of apology to the tenant, he said: “We are committed to treating everyone fairly, irrespective of disability, gender, sexual orientation, or any other characteristic.
“We take the judge’s findings extremely seriously and will work with our colleagues in BHP to ensure that we learn from this case.”