A BEREAVED, gay, deaf partner fought off a legal challenge to take away his home.
The Central London County Court dismissed a claim for possession from Brent Housing Partnership against a profoundly deaf man who had been living with his deaf partner until his death.
His Honour Judge Lochrane ruled in the man’s favour after the case was heard on January 20, 21 and 22, and called for a more flexible treatment of gay relationships.
The defendant claimed to be entitled to succeed to his late deaf partner’s council tenancy because they had lived together as if they were civil partners for the five years before his death.
He was initially entitled to do this but after it was found the partner had claimed housing benefit as a single person and not informed his GP or local authority of his relationship a possession order was made.
The defendant’s partner, who died of prostate cancer in 2010, was from Belfast and was reluctant to be open about his sexuality.
Brent Housing Partnership claimed that applicants must prove that their relationship is “openly and unequivocally displayed to the outside world” but there were sufficient external witnesses who could testify to the relationship.
Judge Lochrane found that BHP had failed to show the required “delicacy and sensitivity” that such a case required, given the potentially devastating effect of a vulnerable disabled man losing his home.
The men, who met in 2005, were both deaf and could not talk so communicated using British Sign Language.
Permission to appeal was refused and the council must pay the cost of the action.
Judge Lochrane decided he was entitled to succeed the property and found the council had imposed an inflexible set of criteria which were inappropriate when considering lesbian or gay relationships.
John Beckley, barrister, of Garden Court Chambers was instructed by solicitor Debra Wilson of Anthony Gold.