No right to remain
Only in exceptional circumstances can a trespasser win the ability to stay, says Jane Plant at Weightmans
In the case of Birmingham City Council v Lloyd, the Court of Appeal has reassured housing providers that a person who has no right to remain in a property under domestic law could only invoke a human rights defence in highly exceptional circumstances.
In this case, Mr Lloyd moved into his brother’s flat after he died, without the knowledge or consent of the local authority it belonged to. His appeal for a new tenancy was denied but despite this he remained in the property, leaving the local authority with no option but to issue possession proceedings against him as a trespasser.
At the county court trial, the court refused to make a possession order, saying that eviction would be a disproportionate interference with the Mr Lloyd’s human rights under article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The reasons given were Mr Lloyd’s history of depression; his financial circumstances and previous history of rent arrears which would make it difficult for him to find other accommodation; the fact that he had secured a start-up business loan which would be wasted if he was evicted; the fact that he was not guilty of nuisance, criminal conduct or anti-social behaviour and got on well with neighbours.
The local authority appealed. The Court of Appeal upheld the appeal, finding that the reasons given by the brother were not ‘exceptional’ and that public authorities were entitled to preserve property for a public purpose and bring unlawful occupation to an end. The court commented that ‘a trespasser seeking to raise that argument faced an uphill task of establishing most exceptional circumstances’.
Jane Plant is associate at Weightmans