This is the wording of the ground:
“The dwelling-house was let to the tenant in consequence of his employment by the landlord seeking possession or a previous landlord under the tenancy and the tenant has ceased to be in that employment.”
Now let’s pick it apart.
Does what it says on the tin really. If the accommodation goes with the job and the tenant loses the job then this is the ground that the landlord can use to apply for possession.
So why is it a discretionary ground? Surely if this is the case then it should be mandatory?
Well, let’s cut back to the basics for a second. Where a ground is discretionary the court has to consider whether granting possession where the ground is proven is a reasonable thing to do given the breach.
There is a similar ground for Rent Act tenants but in that ground the landlord must prove they need the property for a new employee, for instance If a landlord lets a house to a handyman/caretaker on a small estate of elderly residents who is permanently on call then it could be difficult for the landlord to provide that service if the property can’t be re-let to the new caretaker.
However, that extra provision isn’t in this ground. All a landlord has to prove is that the employment has ended, so what if the landlord says “Alright John, I’ll take you on as my mechanic and on the outskirts of town there is a nice 2 bed house I have which I’ll let to you for £500 a month” then sacks John and decides to turf him out?
The courts would have to look at whether or not the accommodation was given “In consequence of his employment” or it was simply the case that John got the job and luckily the landlord just happened to have a 2 bed house going at the same time.
If John is up to date with his rent why should he lose his home just because he lost his job? Especially if he lost employment through no fault of his own.
This ground crosses over somewhat into the definition of ‘Tied accommodation’ where if there is no contract stipulating that the premises was let in consequence of the job then the advocate/adviser has to ask the question “Is it essential for the better performance of duties for the person to have to live in the accommodation in order to do the job”.
It might be convenient to have a sweet shop manager who lives above the shop but it probably isn’t essential.
Defending this ground
Check the tenancy agreement and the employment contract to see if there is mention of the accommodation coming with the job.
If both contracts are silent on the matter then ask yourself the question about better performance of duties and bear in mind that the landlord doesn’t have to prove he needs the accommodation for another employee so you are defending chiefly on grounds that eviction would be unreasonable and that there is no reason why the tenancy cannot continue despite the loss of the job.
Note from Tessa
Note that if the employee is required to live in the premises as a part of their job, then their occupation will be under a license, not a tenancy so this ground will not apply then – the landlord can simply terminate the license and, if the former employee don’t go, bring proceedings on the basis that they are a trespasser.
The proceedings used are the same as those used to evict squatters, but as the former employee did not enter as a trespasser, the landlord is not entitled to a forthwith order.
The sort of situations this will apply to are live in caretakers and nannies and gamekeepers. Any job where you have to live on the premises.
So this ground will only be used if the employee got the accommodation along with their job but it was not actually part of their job to live there.
Although, as always with discretionary grounds, the landlord would be better off serving a section 21 notice (if the tenancy is an AST).