Almshouse charities will be relieved to hear that the Supreme Court last week dismissed an appeal from an almshouse resident who claimed security of tenure.
The Court decided that the resident was a licensee only, not a secure tenant. One of the grounds of the resident's appeal was that it was a breach of her human rights to be denied security of tenure, but the Court disagreed. Trustees of almshouses have a duty to ensure that only people qualifying for assistance (under the terms of the charity's governing document) should reside there. The trustees need to be able to remove people who no longer qualify for assistance, in order to make room for others who do qualify.
If the Court had found in favour of the resident, the financial and legal implications for almshouse charities could have been devastating.
If the almspersons were entitled to security of tenure this would be inconsistent with the performance by the Trustees of their duties under the Scheme because it would be impossible to ensure that only qualifying persons occupied the almshouses ..... the denial of security of tenure to almspersons is clearly justifiable as a proportionate measure which secures a fair balance between the interests of charities and current and future almspersons.