This page is targeted at housing professionals. Our main site is at www.shelter.org.uk

Conditions for issuing demotion orders

This content applies to England

Conditions which must be satisfied for the court to be able to issue a demotion order .

Landlords who can apply for demotion orders

The following types of landlords can apply for demotion orders:[1]

  • local authorities
  • housing action trusts
  • private registered providers of social housing.

The rules governing proceedings in demotion claims are outlined in Part 65 of the Civil Procedure Rules (CPR).

Tenants who can be demoted

The above landlords can seek demotion orders against the following types of tenant:[2]

  • secure tenants, secure licensees and flexible tenants
  • assured tenants.

What behaviour triggers demotion?

The court can only make a demotion order if it is satisfied that the behaviour in question meets the criteria set out below.[3]

The behaviour must be caused by:

  • the tenant, or
  • a person living with or visiting the tenant (even if the tenant is unaware of the behaviour and powerless to stop it).[4]

It can be behaviour which the perpetrator has engaged in, or threatened to engage in.

The behaviour must:[5]

  • have caused or be capable of causing nuisance or annoyance to any person, and
  • directly or indirectly relate to or affect the housing management functions of the relevant landlord

or

  • involve using or threatening to use housing accommodation owned or managed by a relevant landlord for an unlawful purpose.

There is a significant difference between the wording here and that in the discretionary grounds for possession relating to antisocial behaviour for secure and assured tenants (grounds 2 and 14 respectively).[6] In the grounds, the behaviour must be 'likely' to cause nuisance, but for demotion orders the behaviour need only be 'capable' of causing nuisance. The threshold of behaviour required for demotion is therefore lower.

It is also important to note the condition (with respect to the nuisance ground) that the behaviour must directly or indirectly relate to the housing management functions of the landlord. This is far from precise, but it does mean that some incidents of antisocial behaviour which concern a private matter will not be relevant for tenancy demotion. For example, a fight between neighbours over excess noise in the property in question would be relevant, but a fight over a private disagreement between neighbours would not be relevant.

Reasonableness

The court must not make the demotion order unless it is satisfied that it is reasonable to make the order.[7] The low level of antisocial behaviour required to satisfy the criteria for issuing a demotion order means that the question of reasonableness provides the main opportunity for defences against demotion - see Defending demotion claims for possible arguments.

[1] s.82A(1) Housing Act 1985; s.6A(1) Housing Act 1988.

[2] s.82A(1) Housing Act 1985; s.6A(1) Housing Act 1988.

[3] s.82A(4)(a) Housing Act 1985 (secure tenancies) and s.6A(4)(a) Housing Act 1988 (assured tenancies), as amended by Sch.11 Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014.

[4] Portsmouth CC v Bryant (2000) 32 HLR 906: Washington Housing Company Ltd v Morson [2005] EWHC 3407.

[5] s.82A(4)(a) Housing Act 1985 (secure tenancies) and s.6A(4)(a) Housing Act 1988 (assured tenancies), as amended by Sch.11 Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014.

[6] Sch.2 Housing Act 1985 (secure); Sch.2 Housing Act 1988 (assured).

[7] s.82A(4)(b) Housing Act 1985; s.6A(4)(b) Housing Act 1988.

Back to top