Human Rights Act to Apply to Private Tenancies?

The Human Rights Act has in recent months caused particular issues for local authorities and social housing landlords with tenants seeking to rely upon Article 8 (the Right to Home and Family Life) as a basis for challenging a landlord`s claim for a Possession Order.

Private landlords do not currently concern themselves with Article 8 on the basis that the Human Rights Act does not apply to private landlords in the same way it does to public bodies and social housing organisations. In a recent case containing squatters occupying the likely site of a proposed new runway at Heathrow Airport, however, the Judge in that matter, whilst accepting the landlord's claim for possession, then granted permission to appeal against her own order evicting the squatters so that the Court of Appeal could determine whether Article 8 applies to the private sector as well as the public sector.

The Heathrow squatters have until the end of August 2012 to lodge their appeal. In the event that the Court of Appeal agrees with the comments of the judge that "as the land had been occupied as a home, Article 8 is capable of application even though the landowner is a private individual…", that decision could potentially have a significant impact on every private residential landlord in the country.

Presently, private landlords renting properties on assured shorthold agreements are able to evict tenants using a Section 21 Notice (also commonly referred to as a 2 month notice), enabling the landlord to remove a tenant even if the tenant is not in breach of any of tenancy provisions. That could change if the Court of Appeal agrees that Article 8 applies to private landlords.

Watch this space for further news.

Posted on: 15/08/2012

This article is for general guidance only. It provides useful information in a concise form. Action should not be taken without obtaining specific legal advice.

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