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Possession claim on succession tenancy withdrawn

Expert Advice consultancy case study


Shelter's Expert Advice service helped Citizens Advice to get a local authority possession claim withdrawn.

Two elderly siblings with health problems were able to remain in their property.

The situation

A Citizens Advice worker contacted the expert advice line about two siblings aged 67 and 71 who had lived in a local authority property for the past 50 years. The original tenant was their mother, who had sadly passed away a few years earlier. One of the brothers succeeded to the tenancy on their mother’s death.

The local authority was seeking possession of the property as they deemed it under-occupied. One of the clients was in ill health and the other had some learning difficulties. Any potential move would be challenging both physically and mentally.

The Citizens Advice adviser wanted to know the options.

Our advice

Our adviser discussed the case in detail, setting out the rules surrounding the statutory succession to a tenancy. This included the relevant timescales for serving a notice and the associated grounds for possession of a property from a successor.

A local authority can seek possession for under-occupancy under a discretionary ground, so it would be for the judge to decide if it is reasonable to grant possession.

The client would have the opportunity to set out their defence of the possession proceedings for the judge to consider. Their defence should include details about:

  • their age

  • how long they have lived in the property

  • any reasons for their attachment to the particular home or location.

Our adviser recommended that the client contact the local authority to set out that they intended to defend the possession proceedings and the reasons for doing so.

The local authority would have to offer suitable alternative accommodation if they were successful in their possession claim. Our adviser explained the details of what should be taken in to account when assessing the suitability of any such offer.

The outcome

The local authority decided to withdraw their application for possession and allowed the clients to remain in the property.

Further resources

Shelter Legal

Council tenancy succession - the succession rules for most council tenants

Tenant defence to a landlord's claim for possession - how a tenant can respond to a claim for possession and submit a defence before or during the hearing

Our free Expert Advice Service gives specialist advice on housing, housing debt, and welfare benefit issues. 

In this section, we highlight relevant enquiries about benefits, possession, domestic violence and other issues.