Supreme Court rejects application of Human Rights Act to private sector tenancies

Following the cases of Manchester City Council v Pinnnock [2011]  and Hounslow London Borough Council v Powell [2011],  when considering possession claims brought by public authorities and some, housing associations, the Court can consider whether the making of an eviction order is a proportionate interference with the tenant's rights under the Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights ("Article 8") and Section 6 of the Human Rights Act 1988 ("Section 6").

Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights states

  1. Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.
  2. There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic wellbeing of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.

Section 6(1) of the Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA 1998) states:  

"It is unlawful for a public authority to act in a way which is incompatible with a Convention right."

Section 6(2) of the HRA 1998 provides that subsection (1) does not apply if the authority is required to act in the manner it has done as a result of primary legislation, or provisions under such legislation, which cannot be interpreted in any other way.

In McDonald v McDonald (2016), which was heard in March 2016, the Supreme Court considered whether the application of Article 8 and Section 6  should be extended to possession claims brought by private sector landlords.

The Supreme Court confirmed that when faced with a possession claim brought by a private sector landlord, the Court is not required to consider whether eviction of the occupant is proportionate. Extending the application of the European Convention of Human Rights would result in an interference with the terms of a contract freely entered into between private parties, which was not the purpose or intention of the Convention.

Whilst acknowledging that the Courts are a "public authority" under Section 6, in a judgment handed down on 15 June 2016, the Supreme Court explained that the Court is merely the forum for the determination of the dispute between the landlord and tenant and that once it has concluded the landlord is entitled to an order for possession, there is nothing further for the Court to investigate.

If you wish to discuss any issues raised in this article, and/or have any contentious Landlord & Tenant queries, contact Chris Drinkall, Partner and member of Rollits' Property Dispute Resolution Group, by telephone on 01482 337367 or by email at christopher.drinkall@rollits.com

Posted on: 27/06/2016

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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