In Hanoman v Southwark LBC [2009] UKHL 29 the House of Lords dismissed the Council’s appeal in this right to buy case. The periodic crediting to the tenant’s rent account of housing benefit was “payment of rent” for the purposes of section 153B of the Housing Act 1985. Judgment of the Court of Appeal [2009] 1 WLR 374, affirmed.

For a summary of the issues see the earlier post under “Forthcoming Judgments”.
Lord Scott gave the only speech.
He commented that the only strength of the Council’s case is that the housing benefit could never have been paid as a rent allowance to Mr Hanoman but only as a rent rebate (para 23).  The only question was whether crediting of a sum to the tenant’s rent account can be described as a “payment of rent”.  He held that the answer was it could be so described.  The word ‘payment’ varied with the context in which it was used: authority established that the word ‘payment’ in itself was one in which, in an appropriate context, might cover many ways of discharging obligations (para 24). Further, a literal construction of ‘payment of rent’ would produce anomalous diffferences among tenants of different landlords which were unprincipled, not supported by any discernible policy (para 26). The other members of the Judicial Committee agreed with Lord Scott.

For judgment, please download: [2009] UKHL 29

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