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Marriage split could leave council tenant, Michael Sims, homeless
An embattled council tenant whose wife left him now also faces losing the roof over his head after judges ruled he cannot stay in the three-bedroom family home they once shared.
Michael Sims suffered a double misfortune when his wife, Sharon, moved out of their home in Dunny Lane, Chipperfield, and informed Dacorum Borough Council that she was quitting her joint tenancy.
Mr Sims was informed by the council that his wife's unilateral decision also terminated his right to live in the house and issued possession proceedings against him.
He argued that his eviction would amount to a violation of his fundamental human rights, but Court of Appeal judges ruled today that his arguments flew in the face of established property law and he would have to go.
Mr Sims was also refused permission to appeal further to The Supreme Court but his lawyers say his case raises such an important issue that they plan to petition the court directly to hear his case.
Lawyers for Mr Sims had argued that it was fundamentally unjust that he should be forced out of his home when neither the council nor his wife gave him any warning of the termination of the joint tenancy.
Andrew Arden QC said eviction would breach Mr Sims' right to respect for his home and to unhindered enjoyment of his private property.
However, dismissing his appeal, Lord Justice Mummery, sitting with Lord Justice Etherton and Sir Scott Baker said it was established law that a periodic joint tenancy is terminated automatically if one of the tenants gives notice to quit on the landlord.
The judge said: "Stating the matter quite baldly, Mr Sims is aiming, by use of the European Convention on Human Rights, to obtain a tenancy of a three-bedroom family home for himself in place of the joint tenancy of a family home which the council had originally granted.
"That seems to me to be more a case of interference with the council's enjoyment of its possessions than of an interference by the council with the possessions of Mr Sims."
Mrs Sims "had the right" to unilaterally terminate the joint tenancy without consulting her husband and his appeal was "unarguable", the judge concluded.
Execution of a possession order over Mr Sims' home was stayed pending his decision on whether to appeal further to the Supreme Court.