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Equality Act 2010 - Section 15 - Defence to Eviction

  • Effective 1st October 2010
  • Should a landlord seek possession from a disabled tenant whether or not the tenancy agreement has been breached, extra due diligence is required.
  • Prior to The Equality Act there was no defence to possession following service of a valid s21 Notice to quit under the Housing Act 1988 - not necessarily so any more.
  • Under Section 15 a disabled person is discriminated against if treated unfavourably due to something arising in consequence of the disability and the person allegedly discriminating cannot demonstrate that they acted proportionately to achieve a legitimate aim.
  • A landlord’s right to end an AST using the statutory notice procedure if the occupant is disabled is compromised.
  • If a landlord knows of a tenant disability but neglects to ensure that the tenant grasps the effects of a s21 notice, then the landlord may be deemed to discriminate against the tenant, since the tenant may lack the capacity to comprehend.
  • Ironically, if landlords are unaware then it is not discriminatory, i.e. ignorance is bliss, but paradoxically not negligent.  The landlord must have subjective knowledge of the disability to be deemed to have discriminated. Where a landlord demonstrates he acted proportionately to the effects of the disability he has not discriminated.
  • London Lewisham BC v Malcolm, House of Lords is the main case upon which s15 was later based.
  • Schizophrenic tenant took in lodger contrary to rules resulting in eviction.
Published: 5 November 2013 Last Updated: 17 November 2021