Decanting Disaster

17 Dec 2013

In the case of Francis v Brent LBC, decided on 9 December 2013, Ms Francis was a secure tenant. In 1991 that tenancy was ended by an outright possession order granted for rent arrears. The order was never enforced. Ms Francis was a 'tolerated trespasser'.

In May 2005 she was decanted to temporary alternative accommodation while major works were undertaken at her home. She was granted a secure tenancy of the alternative accommodation under an agreement which also referred to her as the secure tenant of her former home. In 2010, when the works were complete, the council refused to allow her to return and let her former home to a new tenant. She sought a declaration that she still held the tenancy of the former home. A judge dismissed her claim but the Court of Appeal allowed her appeal and granted the declaration.

The only proper construction of the May 2005 agreement was one which recognised her as the secure tenant of her former home. The Supreme Court has refused the council's application for permission to appeal.