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Family ‘Reasonably Requires’ Six-Bedroom Council House

A local authority tenant has fought off attempts to terminate her tenancy of a six-bedroom London home where her family has lived for more than 30 years. The London Borough of Brent’s plea that the property was larger than was reasonably required by the tenant and her family was rejected.

Terraced HousesCheryl Tudor succeeded to the tenancy of the house in Cricklewood, north London, in 2009 following the death of her mother who had been the property’s tenant since 1981. The house is one of only a small handful of large family homes within the local authority’s portfolio.

The council applied to the county court to terminate Mrs Tudor’s tenancy, arguing that the property was more extensive than was reasonably required by herself and her family within the meaning of ground 16 of schedule two of the Housing Act 1985.

However, Mrs Tudor argued that the house was needed not just by her but by her disabled brother and his carers. Her other brother had also moved into the house with his two children, aged nine and seven, after his marriage broke down.

The council’s arguments were dismissed at first instance but, in challenging that ruling at the Court of Appeal, its lawyers argued that the county court hearing had been infected by procedural unfairness. It was also submitted that the judge had failed to give adequate reasons for his decision and had been wrong to accept that Mrs Tudor’s brother and his children had made the property their permanent home.

However, dismissing the appeal, the court ruled that it was ‘apparent’ from a close reading of the judge’s oral and ‘rough-hewn’ judgment why the council had lost the case. Despite gaps in the transcript of what the judge had said, it was open to him to conclude that Mrs Tudor’s brother and his children had made their home in the property in 2007 and that the family ‘reasonably required’ such a large property.