Working in advocacy and policy can often be a long road. While some of CLM’s cases can have an immediate impact e.g. McCann v. Monaghan District & Ors  IEHC 276, which led to a change in the law to strengthen the level of fair procedures and safeguards to debtors, other cases can take longer before the impact is felt.
For many years, lawyers had questioned whether Section 62 of the Housing Act 1966, as amended, breached human rights protected by the European Convention on Human Rights. Section 62 was the mechanism local authorities used to recover possession of local authority homes in situations such as rent arrears; alleged anti-social behaviour or where the local authority had refused an application of a household member to succeed to the tenancy of a deceased tenant.
The mechanism did not afford the tenant or household member an independent and proportionate decision making procedure as the judge’s only role in cases where the local authority issued a notice to quit under Section 62 was to ensure procedural formalities had been complied with. Over the years, CLM Northside have been involved in a number of cases challenging this mechanism, including the case of Lattimore v. Dublin City Council  IEHC 233.
Section 62 has now been repealed and a new recovery process has been introduced by section 18 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2014.
One of CLM Northside’s cases from 2015 involved a client who was trying to succeed to the tenancy of his late father at their family home. Shortly after the death of the client’s father, he made an application to succeed to the tenancy. This application was refused as the client was not listed on the rent account, however the client continued to remain in the property for a further 8 years.
As the client was not a ‘tenant’ the local authority refused to carry out very necessary and basic works to his home. Whilst the conditions in the client’s home were very poor, the alternative for him was homelessness. Despite numerous requests from both the client and CLM Northside, the local authority refused to engage with the client but did allow him to remain in the property.
CLM Northside’s Input
In 2015, following the commencement of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2014 and 8 years after the death of the client’s father, the local authority indicated that they were considering recovering possession of this client’s home and they intended to use the powers under the legislation relating to a succession of tenancy scenario. The local authority afforded the client the right to make written submissions through CLM in advance of issuing District Court proceedings.
Following the submissions, the local authority met with the client and offered him a tenancy agreement which the client has since signed. The local authority has also committed to carrying out the works in the client’s home and did not engage any further in the District Court recovery procedure.
The client now has security of tenure in his family home and the local authority has carried out all necessary repairs to ensure the property is maintained to an acceptable standard.