This is the wording of the ground:-
‘The tenant is the person, or one of the persons, to whom the tenancy was granted and the landlord was induced to grant the tenancy by a false statement made knowingly or recklessly by—
(a) the tenant, or
(b) a person acting at the tenant’s instigation”.
Now lets pick it apart.
Note that it doesn’t have to be the tenant who lied, it could be an agent or someone else lying on the tenant’s behalf.
On a literal reading there is no reason why it couldn’t be a previous landlord covering up for the fact that their former tenant had debts or damaged the property.
The wording suggests an action rather than a failure to act, which sets an interesting legal test. Does silence on an issue count? Is it the act of making a false statement that is the legal test or can deliberately not mentioning something important qualify as a breach of Ground 17?
In the case of Minter v. Mole Valley District Council  the local authority set up a tenancy knowing that the tenant had a history of damaging property but they didn’t tell the landlord and the tenant smashed the place up.
Mr Minter successfully sued the council, the court taking the view that it was reasonable to impose a duty of care on the local authority and that the council had negligently misrepresented the tenant’s suitability.
However Minter was not a case for possession under this Ground, it was a negligence claim against the council.
In my opinion had the landlord sought to use this ground he may have failed because the wording requires an action, not an inaction.
Also key to pay attention to the fact that the lie itself must have induced the landlord to grant the tenancy. A tenant moving in without a dog and later getting one whilst telling the landlord they don’t have one wouldn’t breach this ground because the lie came after the tenancy was granted
Defending this ground.
I think it hinges on what I have written above, did the tenant or someone acting for them make a false statement or did they just leave something out?
You often get landlords complaining that they didn’t know a tenant was on benefits when they took them on, having been told that they work but bear in mind many working people are entitled to a range of benefits to top up meagre income from poorly paid jobs.