Tenants Win Human Rights Claim in Europe


A landmark judgment of the European Court means that social landlords will have to consider any potential possession proceedings in light of the Human Rights Act, which gives legal effect in the UK to certain fundamental rights and freedoms contained in the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). This applies whether or not the tenant has a secure tenancy. The case was brought by eight tenants, after Lambeth Borough Council had sought possession of their homes.
One of the tenants, Gavin Kay, had lived in his home for more than ten years. He had previously gone to court to challenge the possession proceedings but was unsuccessful. The European Court, however, determined that the loss of a person’s home was the most extreme form of interference with the Article 8 right to respect for an individual’s home. The Court found that the landlord’s right of possession had to be balanced against an individual’s rights under Article 8, despite the fact that the domestic courts had determined that the tenants’ right to occupy their properties had come to an end.
The European Court also decided that the tenants had suffered feelings of frustration and injustice, and awarded each of them Euro 2,000 in compensation. This judgment is likely to have substantial implications for social landlords, who must now take the rights of their tenants, as guaranteed by the ECHR, into consideration when deciding whether to seek possession proceedings.
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