A drug addict whose council flat became a ‘nest of crime’ during his frequent terms of imprisonment is facing eviction after the Court of Appeal ruled that his local authority landlord was entitled to take a ‘relatively strict approach’ to the case and to prioritise the needs of other local residents.
The tenant was granted a non-secure tenancy of the flat by Fareham Borough Council in the hope that that a stable base would help him to beat his drug addiction and to escape from the revolving door of repeated conviction and imprisonment for shop-lifting and other petty crime.
However, within months, the council was receiving numerous complaints that the flat had become a drugs den and a ‘running sore of criminal behaviour’. The ‘filthy, hazardous’ property was said to be strewn with syringe needles and drugs-related debris some of which had been dumped outside for other residents and their children to find. Neighbours also complained of drunken, rowdy, foul-mouthed parties and fights including smashed bottles.
The council gave the tenant a series of chances after he was again and again sent to prison before finally serving him with notice to quit. However, a county court judge refused to issue a possession order after the tenant pleaded that he was by then drink and drugs-free and that fellow drug addicts had moved into the flat whilst he was in prison and that he could not be held responsible for their misbehaviour.
However, allowing the council’s appeal and issuing a possession order, the court noted that the tenant had been living in the flat as a ‘tolerated trespasser’ since the notice to quit was served upon him in 2011. The council had been entitled to give great weight to the interests of neighbours and the tenant’s plea that he was not to blame for nuisance caused by his friends did not ‘lessen that imperative’. The tenant’s arguments that his eviction would be a disproportionate interference with his right to respect for his home had no real prospect of success.