Hanoman (FC) (Respondent) v London Borough of Southwark (Appellants),  UKHL 29
Syndicated from Residential Property
This case concerned the right-to-buy under Part V of the Housing Act 1985. The respondent, Mr Hanoman, was the tenant of a flat in London. His landlord was the appellant Council. It is not in dispute that Mr Hanoman was entitled under s.118 of the 1985 Act to the statutory right-to-buy in respect of his flat.
A right-to-buy is triggered by the service on the landlord of a notice that the tenant is claiming the right-to-buy (s.122). Mr Hanoman served a s.122 notice in October 1999. However a dispute then arose between the Council and Mr Hanoman as to whether Mr Hanoman had withdrawn his notice. The Council said that he had; Mr Hanoman said that he had not. The High Court decided in June 2004 that Mr Hanoman’s application to exercise his right-to-buy was still subsisting and that the Council was under a duty to deal with it.
As the Council’s position had been that the notice had been withdrawn, the Council had not served the appropriate notices upon Mr Hanoman under the right-to-buy. Accordingly, in March 2003 Mr Hanoman served a notice of delay upon the Council and in May 2003 he served a subsequent operative notice of delay. Consequently, s. 153B of the 1985 Act came into play which provided that where a secure tenant had served on his landlord an operative notice of delay, until certain other events happened, payment of rent should be treated not only as a payment of rent but also as a payment on account by the tenant which was to be taken into account in calculating the purchase price.
The issue in this appeal was what constituted a “payment of rent” for the purposes of s.153B, or, more particularly, whether the crediting to a tenant’s rent account of housing benefit constituted a “payment of rent” for those purposes.
The House unanimously held that it would reject the literal construction of “payment of rent” that was contended for and concluded that the crediting of housing benefit to the rent account of a local authority tenant as required by s.134(1A) of the Social Security Administration Act 1992 was a payment of rent for the purposes of s.153B of the 1985 Act. Accordingly, the appeal was dismissed.