A tenant of Salix Homes allegedly kept her dead pet dog in the kitchen for several days. This almost led to her eviction from her home.
In April 2013 Margaret Martin was found to be allegedly keeping her dead dog in the kitchen of her rented property. This prompted Salix Homes to issue possession proceedings against Ms Martin. For a while before, Salix Homes had attempted to intervene due to the alleged poor state of Ms Martin's home but the discovery of the dead dog was the final nail in the coffin and possession proceedings were issued.
The matter was dealt with at Manchester County Court on 21 February 2014. Ms Martin was made the subject of a three year Suspended Possession Order ('SPO'). A SPO is a Possession Order which is suspended on specific terms. If the tenant fails to comply with those terms then the Landlord can apply to the Court to set a date for the tenant's eviction.
The terms of Ms Martin's SPO include that she must ensure the property is kept in a reasonable condition; engage with tenancy support teams; and allow inspections of the property. In addition, Ms Martin is prevented from keeping animals at her property. Ms Martin also faced criminal prosecution in relation to the finding of the dead dog at her property. She appeared at Manchester Magistrates Court on February 18, where she pleaded guilty to the charge of failure of duty of care towards an animal which is contrary to the Animal Welfare Act 2006. She was due to be sentenced for this offence on March 12.
This case just goes to show that tenants do not have a free reign as to how they live behind closed doors as landlords can bring possession proceedings on a whole host of grounds. Therefore, it is important that tenants are aware that legal advice is on hand to help them if they find themselves in a similar position to Ms Martin. Ms Martin was not evicted but she will now likely be heavily monitored under the terms of the SPO and any alleged breach could lead to an eviction date being set by the Court. This is why it is so important that tenants obtain legal advice if they receive possession proceedings.
If you receive a notice from your landlord or possession proceedings then you must get specialist legal help. Without legal advice you may face eviction for alleged breaches of your tenancy as Ms Martin did.
By Kate Hancock, Solicitor in the housing law team