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A man's home is his castle... but terms and conditions apply

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I read with interest this week a story regarding a patriotic tenant of a national social housing landlord who painted his front door in the colours of the St George’s Flag.

Steven Rolfe, a former solider, originally painted his front door in St George’s Flag colours in 2003.  However, his landlords, Places for People, have now written to Mr Rolfe requesting he repaint his door as he had not requested their prior permission. They also say the door does not meet their decoration specifications. 

Understandably from Mr Rolfe’s perspective this has come as a bolt out of the blue given that the door has remained in St George’s Flag colours for ten years and his landlords are only now requesting that he repaints the front door.  I understand Mr Rolfe wrote back to his landlords requesting retrospective permission, however, it appears Places for People have rejected his request.

The vast majority, if not all tenancy agreements, will contain a clause about not modifying or making adaptations to the property without the landlord’s prior consent. Although this may appear petty on Mr Rolfe’s landlords’ part, he is likely to be in breach of his tenancy agreement if he did not request prior permission to make the alterations to his front door. If Mr Rolfe does not repaint the door then he faces the prospect of his landlords starting possession proceedings against him to recover his home.

You may be wondering how can his landlords recover possession of Mr Rolfe’s home in these circumstances?

His landlords could bring possession proceedings on the basis that an obligation of the tenancy, other than the payment of rent, has been broken or not performed, i.e., the failure to repaint his front door. If possession was brought on these grounds the Court would have some discretion on what Order to make, but worryingly for Mr Rolfe an outright Possession Order could be made against him. This would mean he would have to give up his home.

By Mark Pimblett

At Stephensons our housing law team assist tenants with all types of possession claims, including claims for rent arrears or anti-social behaviour. You may qualify for Legal Aid if you are financially eligible. We also have alternative funding arrangements.