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A son trying to cling onto his family home today faced up to a local authority bid to claw the property back in an ...
A son trying to cling onto his family home today faced up to a local authority bid to claw the property back in an Appeal Court test case.

In a case which could effect thousands of other council tenants, Paul Walker is battling to stay in Hatcham Road, Kingstanding, where he was brought up.

But Birmingham City Council says he had no right to 'succeed' to the tenancy after his mother's death and wants the house back so that it can given to a needy family.

Mr Walker's mother and father, Betty and Bertram Walker, moved in to the house under a joint tenancy in 1965 and she carried on living there after her husband's death in 1969.

Mrs Walker died in 2004, but her son stayed on in the family home and now insists that, under the Housing Act, he 'succeeded' to his mother's tenancy and has a right to stay put.

A judge sitting at Birmingham County Court in July last year sided with the council, but Mr Walker's QC, Jan Luba, is now battling to overturn the ruling at London's Appeal Court.

In a legal issue that has never before been determined, Mr Luba argued that Mrs Walker had been the 'sole tenant' of the property following the death of her husband - giving her son the right to succeed her as the property's secure tenant.

However, lawyers for the council argued that Mrs Walker had herself been 'a successor' to the tenancy and her son had no right to effectively inherit it on her death.

Addressing Lord Justice Mummery, sitting with Lord Justice Rix and Mr Justice Peter Smith, Mr Luba said the county court judge had been 'wrong' in reaching the conclusion he did.

He added: 'The late Betty Walker became sole tenant in 1969 by the right of survivorship. No interest passed to her as she was already entitled to the whole of the leasehold estate as a joint tenant.'

And he argued the present legislation had not come into force until 1980 - meaning that, at the time the new laws were passed, she held the sole tenancy of the house, making her son eligible for succession.

Recognising the importance of the legal issues raised, the Appeal Court judges reserved their judgement on Mr Walker's appeal until a later, unspecified, date.


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