If joint tenants of social housing fall out to the point where they can no longer live together, deciding which of them has to leave the property can be an agonising choice. That was certainly so in one Court of Appeal case where a disabled man was ordered to quit his flat, leaving it in the sole occupation of his former partner.

The man suffered from a serious back condition and could not work. For that reason, he and his partner had been granted the tenancy of a ground floor council flat at a low rent. Their personal relationship ended bitterly and an issue arose as to which of them would have to surrender their tenancy and move out.

A judge initially ruled that the man’s ex-partner would have to go on the basis that his need for the property was greater than hers. He was ordered to pay her £1,500 in compensation in return for the tenancy being placed in his sole name. However, the door was left open for further applications to the judge.

On the woman’s application for a review of the decision, the same judge performed a volte face and ruled that the man would have to leave. That was on the basis that the woman needed to live near her workplace and that she could not afford commercial rents in the area. He would struggle to pay the rent on the flat on his own and, if rendered homeless, was likely to be viewed as in priority need of rehousing by the local authority.

In dismissing the man’s appeal against that decision, the Court noted that it was for the judge to balance the former couple’s competing needs and the hardship that they would suffer on being forced to move out. Whatever the outcome of the case, the result would be hard on one of them and there was no error of law in the judge’s ruling.


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