Human rights laws do not affect private property repossessions

Flats

Rights given under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) do not apply in possession claims between private parties, the Supreme Court has confirmed.

The court dismissed an appeal by a woman who claimed a possession order for the property she lived in under an assured shorthold tenancy disproportionately breached her rights as a private citizen under the ECHR.

Under the 1998 Human Rights Act, public authorities cannot disproportionately interfere with the rights given to private citizens by the ECHR. The woman contended that the definition of ‘public authority’ should include a court making a possession order and that the courts should therefore consider the disproportionality of evicting her. However, five Supreme Court justices unanimously disagreed, as to find otherwise would enable private citizens to ‘alter their contractual rights and obligations’.

The woman concerned, who suffers from mental-health problems, had rented the house from her parents, who bought it in 2005. Due to financial difficulties, her parents missed several mortgage payments, and consequently the lender applied for a possession order under the 1988 Housing Act to repossess the house.

Gaby Hardwicke Associate Solicitor Daniela Catuara said: “This will be welcome news to landlords. Had the tenant’s appeal succeeded it would have been disastrous news for landlords as it would have opened the floodgates for tenants to contest possession claims.”

Expert legal advice on landlord and tenant matters

For expert legal advice on landlord and tenant matters contact Senior Associate Solicitor Daniela Catuara:

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