The defendant occupied a property owned by the claimant registered social landlord under a secure tenancy. She was in arrears of rent, and in February 2001 the landlord obtained a possession order in respect of the property, suspended on condition that the defendant pay the landlord £1,049 unpaid rent and £120 costs by weekly instalments. In March 2001 the defendant was in breach of the order, with the effect that the secure tenancy came to an end. The defendant, however, remained in occupation of the property. Housing benefit was paid, and between October and December 2004, because one month’s housing benefit had been paid in advance, the defendant’s account was in credit. The landlord commenced proceedings against the defendant in February 2006, seeking, inter alia, possession of the property on the ground that the defendant, her family and associates had behaved in a manner which had caused nuisance and annoyance to her neighbours and others in the vicinity of the property. Possession was sought on the basis that the defendant had occupied the property as a trespasser since the termination of the secure tenancy or, alternatively, that if by reason of the conduct of the parties since the termination of the secure tenancy defendant had acquired a new tenancy, that new tenancy was an assured shorthold tenancy which the landlord was entitled to determine, and had determined, by notice under the Housing Act 1988. The district judge ordered the trial of a preliminary issue, namely whether the defendant was a tolerated trespasser and, if not, what was her status as occupier of the property. The defendant did not dispute that she was a tolerated trespasser, but denied that the landlord was entitled to possession, and contended that its claim was misconceived as it was seeking to bring an action on the judgment in the earlier proceedings. She argued that although the sum of unpaid rent which she had been ordered to pay in February 2001 had been paid when her account had gone into credit in October 2004, the sum of costs had not, and that it was therefore open to the landlord to proceed to enforce the earlier order by the issue of a warrant for possession. The judge held that the payments had been made in respect of both rent and costs, that the order of February 2001 had therefore been fully complied with so that it was not enforceable by the issue of a warrant for possession, and the landlord was entitled to bring a fresh claim for possession. He went on to make an order for possession. The defendant appealed, but did not challenge the judge’s finding that the whole sum ordered in February 2001 had been paid.
Held – The appeal would be dismissed. Absent an appeal against the judge’s finding that the entire amount ordered to be paid in February 2001 had been paid, it could not be said that the judge was wrong to hold that the order had ceased to be enforceable. In those circumstances, he was correct to hold that the landlord was entitled to bring a fresh claim for possession.