Equality Act and Public Law Defences to Possession Claims

Increasing numbers of occupiers in the social/council housing sector have limited security of tenure (eg introductory tenants, starter tenants, demoted tenants, non-secure tenants and those without a right of succession). Others can face possession proceedings on mandatory grounds, including ground 8 and the 'absolute' ground for possession based on serious anti-social behaviour.

This course deals with 3 possible lines of defence available when an occupier cannot argue about reasonableness, and where the landlord has followed the correct process under housing law to regain possession.

The focus of this course is on public law defences based on flaws in the landlord's decision-making processes, such as failing to have regard to the Public Sector duty in s149 of the Equality Act. The training considers the duty to have regard to the best interests of children and the extent to which this may impact on lawful decision making, as well as whether and when a claim can be defended if the landlord is evicting a disabled occupier for a reason which is arguably related to their disability.

Group training (5-18 staff): Commercial rate £955; Standard / Concessionary £890 + plus trainer’s expenses + VAT

Course includes

  • Who is disabled for the purpose of the Equality Act?
  • Is it legal/illegal to evict a disabled tenant?
  • Is an Equality Act proportionality review required before starting a possession claim?
  • How does justification under the Equality Act differ from Article 8 proportionality
  • What is the relevance of the public sector equality duty under the 2010 Equality Act
  • What are the ingredients of a public law defence, where have such defences succeeded or failed
  • Can such arguments be raised at the warrant execution/suspension stage as well as during possession proceedings
  • Key Court decisions
  • Practical exercises and case studies.

Learning outcomes

    After attending this training, you will be able to:
  • Identify potential public law defences
  • Evaluate when and how an occupier may be protected by the 2010 Equality Act
  • Confidently advise clients, whether landlords or tenants, on this area
  • Apply the law in a practical context
  • Know what evidence to obtain and questions to ask.

Suitable for

Housing advisers, housing officers and solicitors working with starter, introductory, demoted and/or non-secure tenants in the local authority and social housing sectors. The training is also relevant to advisers from other voluntary agencies advocating for or representing clients facing eviction action. Please note: working knowledge of the provisions of the 1985/1988/1996 Housing Acts which govern these tenancy types, will be assumed.

Meet the trainer

Chris Morris

Chris Morris Chris Morris started his housing advice career in 1982 within citizens advice, eventually managing a West London CAB. He then qualified as a solicitor in 1996 and worked in private practice between 1994-2002, specialising in housing and working on several significant Court of Appeal cases. He then spent some time working for Oxford Housing Rights Centre before joining Shelter’s London legal team in 2004. Whilst at Shelter Chris became a managing solicitor and then deputy head of legal services. He led Shelter’s recent Supreme Court interventions in ‘Hotak’ (2015) and ‘McDonald’ (2016), before moving to the government legal department carrying out public law litigation. Chris has wide experience of possession proceedings, homelessness and judicial review. He has trained many of Shelter’s intermediate and advanced housing law and homelessness courses, as well as delivering for the HLPA and to NHAS trainers. He is now a Shelter freelance trainer and lectures and teaches the housing law module to undergraduates at Westminster University.
CPD hours 5