NOTE
(Expenses)

Michelle Caven v Irvine Housing Association Limited

[1] By its order of 22 June the Tribunal dismissed this application as incompetent and reserved expenses. The respondents have now moved for their expenses. The applicant opposes that motion on the basis (a) that it is not fair, given the amount of money she has spent in renovating her house in the expectation of being able to buy it and (b) that she cannot afford to pay any award made against her.

[2] So far as the first of these matters is concerned, the applicant was aware that she would not be able to buy her house until 2012 at the earliest. She nevertheless spent £30,000 on its renovation. Whilst it would have been more prudent to await 2012 and see what happened then, one can understand that she would have been reluctant to wait that long. Understandable though that is, she ought to have realised that there was some element of risk that the period of prohibition of sale of social housing would be extended beyond 2012. The respondents say that such a warning was written into all leases entered into at that time, although, surprisingly, neither side has produced the lease. In those circumstances, although I sympathise with the applicant, I am unable to hold that she has been unfairly dealt with. In that regard, it is also relevant to point out that in the intervening years the applicant will have enjoyed the benefit of the work she has had done in terms of improvement of her living conditions although not in terms of appreciation of the capital value of her home.

[3] Even if there had been unfairness, however, it would not have justified the applicant in raising an action which had been rendered incompetent by legislation. Even if the respondents did promise that she could buy the house in 2012 that made no difference to this tribunal’s power to grant her application in 2016. Our powers are entirely statutory and there is no provision in the legislation which would allow us to circumvent the terms of the Housing (Scotland) Act 2001. Her feeling of grievance against the respondents could not change any of that and she simply should not have proceeded with an application which had been rendered incompetent by the legislation.

[4] Neither is the fact that the applicant says she cannot afford the expenses of the application a reason for refusing an award of expenses against her. The normal rule is that a party who loses a court case has to pay the other party’s expenses and it is then for the other party to enforce that award if it can. This tribunal follows that rule. There is nothing about this case which takes it out of the scope of that rule and I have accordingly granted the respondents’ motion.


Certified a true copy of the statement of reasons for the decision of the Lands Tribunal for Scotland intimated to parties on 22 September 2016

Neil M Tainsh – Clerk to the Tribunal