- Project plans
- Project activities
- Legislation and standards
- Industry context
Last edited 22 Jan 2021
Almshouses have for centuries offered sanctuary to the poor and vulnerable but the legal status of those who occupy them has always been in doubt – until the January 2017 case of Watts v Stewart & Or.
The woman had occupied the almshouse for over 10 years, having been appointed as a beneficiary of the charity that owned it, and was required to pay weekly rent and maintenance charges. Following numerous incidents of anti-social behaviour, the charity was granted a possession order against her by a judge.
In dismissing her challenge to that order, the Court rejected arguments that she occupied the almshouse under a periodic tenancy. The terms of her appointment made clear that she was never intended to have exclusive legal possession of the property and had only been granted a personal licence to occupy it.
The woman also argued that her lack of protection from eviction, when compared to tenants of social housing, amounted to unlawful discrimination within the meaning of Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights. However, the Court found that any such differential treatment was objectively justified.
Noting that there are 35,000 residents of 1,700 almshouses around the country, the Court found that granting the former security of tenure would undermine the charitable objectives of the latter. The absence of such security struck a fair balance between the interests of charities and current and future almspersons.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
Featured articles and news
Proper materials and maintenance can help reduce rust.
Is the construction sector responding to calls for ED&I?
Engineers pay tribute by sharing their memories.
The hidden price of infrastructure.
BREEAM incorporates wellbeing into its Building Back Better programme.
Administration signals policy changes on some building-related issues.
From inns and coaching houses to boutiques.
Survey reveals green skills gap.
America's economic collapse produced scores of PWA Moderne projects.
The benefits of glowing aggregates and cement.
Urgent need for open communication to address mental health issues.