The recent High Court judgment in the case of London Borough of Haringey v Ahmed & Ahmed (Case No: HC-2015-003163) sets a precedent for altering terms in original tenancy agreements and will have far reaching implications for all social housing tenants and local authorities, advises law firm Miles & Partners LLP.
This long running case, involves Ms Ahmed, a disabled woman and the mother of 7 children, 5 of whom live with her in a four-bedroomed house owned by the Council. The family have lived in the property since 1988.
In October 1988 Ms Ahmed’s husband signed an agreement with the council naming him and his wife as the joint tenants. Just over a week later, Ms Ahmed’s husband went back to the council and asked them to change the names on the tenancy. He asked the council to take his wife’s name off the agreement and substitute his mother’s name. The Council agreed, and signed a new tenancy agreement.
Years later, the London Borough of Haringey considered Ms Ahmed to be a trespasser and they began possession proceedings in the County Court. In July 2015, the case was transferred to the Chancery Division of the High Court because of the complexities of the case. The final hearing took place on 18th and 19th May 2016.
His Honour Judge Jarman QC, sitting in this case as Chancery Judge, found that the initial agreement for the secure tenancy, which Mr Ahmed signed on his and his wife’s behalf, had never been properly determined by the Council and he dismissed the claim.
Lou Crisfield, Housing case worker at Miles & Partners LLP, who represented Ms Ahmed said: “This landmark decision means that Ms Ahmed retains her tenancy and her family can continue to remain in their home without fear of re-possession, after years of anxiety and uncertainty. In this case, the Judge found that Ms Ahmed could not have contemplated ending her interest in the tenancy so soon after finding a home for her family.
“It is not uncommon for local authorities and other social landlords to believe that they can alter the original terms of a tenancy agreement, including the names of the parties, without regard to the wishes and intentions of the original tenants. Councils and Landlords will now have to consider any changes to tenancy agreements much more carefully with more regard for the welfare of the tenants involved.”