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Staying power

Does the court have power to adjourn a possession
case so the tenant can sort out his housing benefit problem? asks Gary Webber

2 August 2002

The tenancy is an assured tenancy and you are acting for the landlord. It is a weekly tenancy and there are substantial arrears. When you served the notice under s 8 of the Housing Act 1988 the arrears were in excess of eight weeks. At the date of the hearing they are still more than eight weeks in arrears. You turn up at court and speak to the tenant outside. He hasn’t got any money and can’t pay. He would like to, but he has had trouble getting housing benefit. You confidently expect to obtain your order for possession. This is a mandatory ground and the court must make the order. However, when the case is called, the kindly deputy district judge digs deeper into the story. It appears the tenant has made some serious efforts to obtain housing benefit but there have been bureaucratic problems. At least that is what he says. The judge says he is going to adjourn the hearing to determine what is going on and to give the tenant a chance to resolve the problem. Can he do so?

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