Here is the wording of the ground.
The condition of any furniture provided for use under the tenancy has, in the opinion of the court, deteriorated owing to ill-treatment by the tenant or any other person residing in the dwelling-house and, in the case of ill-treatment by a person lodging with the tenant or by a sub-tenant of his, the tenant has not taken such steps as he ought reasonably to have taken for the removal of the lodger or sub-tenant.
Now lets pick it apart.
Curiously little is written about this ground, even in Defending Possession Proceedings, the accepted bible on this area of law.
In one sense it is straightforward, if the property is let furnished and the court are satisfied that the tenant has allowed the condition of it to become damaged through ill-treatment but you can imagine all sorts of counter arguments on this one.
Who at some time or other hasn’t stood on a dining room chair to change a lightbulb or test a smoke alarm? If your foot goes through the wicker seat base is that ill-treatment or just an accident?
I once lived in a flat above an 18 stone Hell’s Angel who used to pop up most nights for a beer and a chat. After months of this the springs underneath our settee gave way through volume of use and his weight. Would this be considered ill-treatment when all he was doing was sitting on it?
One thing you don’t need a lawyer for is to know that when this happens you don’t tell an 18 stone Hell’s Angel that his beer gut has ruined your settee…….you just quietly go and buy a new one.
There is also another sentence in there that gets overlooked, whereby a tenant can be evicted under this ground if anyone lodging with the tenant who has been the source of the ill-treatment and they have not been chucked out by the tenant.
Not so much of an issue for the PRS where landlords allowing tenants to take in lodgers is fairly unusual but in housing associations tenancies it is a more regular occurrence. Would this ground apply to live-in carers?
But again this a discretionary ground so a landlord would have to go some to get possession using Ground 15, mind you, have a look at the photograph, taken by me in one of the many horrors I’ve been involved in, that would most probably add some urgency to the proceedings.
Defending this ground.
It seems to hinge on the term ‘Ill-Treatment’ v. accidental damage, wear and tear or just being supplied with rubbish, jerry-built furniture. Three tenants using the same dining table bought for £60 in IKEA isn’t going to last long.
Also, to return to my point above, if a housing association tenant was expected to evict his carer would it still stand up?
One thing I have learnt in 25 years of dealing with housing law as that seemingly far-fetched hypothetical scenarios are rarely far from the truth. Read the Housing Caselaw Handbook if you don’t believe me.
Truth is often stranger than fiction.
Note from Tessa
I suspect one of the reasons why this ground is so rarely used is that a Judge would be very unlikely to grant possession based on it alone as he will consider that the landlord already has an adequate remedy – deduction of damages from the deposit.
No Judge is going to make someone homeless because the springs on the sofa are worn down.
However, it might be useful used in combination with other discretionary grounds. Although in the private sector, as I have already said, landlords should avoid discretionary grounds like the plague.