Eviction Compatible with Human Rights


A social housing tenant who was evicted from his home recently took his case to the High Court on the basis that the landlord's action was incompatible with the tenant's human rights. The claim was brought under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (the right to family life, home and correspondence) as well as under Article 6 (the right to a fair trial).
Stanley Coombes sought to challenge the proceedings in which the London Borough of Waltham Forest sought possession of his flat. The property had previously been rented by Mr Coombes' father and, after his death, by his mother. The claimant occupied the flat under a licence. He sought to argue that the eviction procedure failed to take into account the personal circumstances of the person being evicted.
The Court was not persuaded by his argument. Eviction could not take place without an order for possession from the Court. Mr Coombes was able to make his case before both the County Court and the Administrative Court, so there was no issue over the right to a fair trial. Secondly, there was nothing in the County Court procedure that prevented him from asking the Court to consider his personal circumstances. 
Social landlords are ‘public bodies’ for the purpose of the Human Rights Act 1998. Although the tenant's claim failed in this instance, there are other situations in which social landlords could potentially be in breach of the Act. In particular, as well as taking account of the right to respect for family and private life, landlords must consider the requirement that their tenants must not be subjected to inhuman or degrading treatment.
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