Are probationary tenancies pointless?

In the case of Southend-on-Sea Borough Council v Armour [2012] Mr Armour was granted an introductory tenancy in January 2011. Within the first few weeks, there were complaints of him being abusive to a neighbour, a council officer and contractors. The council gave notice of intention to seek possession. The decision to serve notice was upheld on review and possession proceedings were issued in June 2011.

After repeated adjournments (including the need to address issues of mental capacity and to secure the appointment of a litigation friend), the claim was tried in March 2012. The judge held that, in the light of all the circumstances, including the absence of any further incidents since March 2011, it would not be proportionate to order possession having regard to the tenant's right to respect for his home (Article 8).

The council appealed. The High Court rejected the appeal. It decided that the judge had properly balanced all aspects of the case. The council appealed to the Court of Appeal which, on 12 March 2014, gave judgement. Lord Justice Lewison said: ‘Where, as here, the tenant under an introductory tenancy gets off to a shaky start, but mends his ways for almost all of the one-year period, I consider that that improvement in behaviour is capable of being a factor in deciding whether it is disproportionate for the landlord to continue to insist on recovering possession.’

This decision calls into question the merits of granting an Introductory tenancy as a means of controlling anti-social behaviour.