Human Rights and Protection from Unlawful Eviction
Human Rights as Defence
Article 8 of Human Rights Act 1998 guarantees the right of respect for the family, private life and home. A tenant can invoke or rely on Article 8 as a defence in possession proceedings against a landlord (refer to landlord conditions above) if the tenant can show either
- That the law or procedure which allows the court to make a possession order is incompatible with Article 8; or
- That the decision to bring possession proceedings was not a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim
Courts hold the power and discretion to grant an extended period before possession can be ordered or suspend the order for possession or refuse the order for possession at all.
Protection from Eviction
The Protection from Eviction Act 1977 provides a minimum standard of protection for the majority of residential occupiers/tenants
- It is criminal offence to unlawfully evict a tenant
- It is criminal offence to harass a tenant
- It prohibits a landlord from recovering possession from a residential occupier without taking court proceedings
- It ensures that the Notice to Quit must be in the correct form and must give at least four weeks’ notice
- Where the person accused of depriving the occupier of the occupation can establish that he or she believed (with reasonable cause) that the residential occupier has ceased to reside in the premises then he/she will not be guilty of an offence.
- The burden of proof is on the defendant to establish such belief
Where the acts done by the landlord or any other person do not amount to an unlawful deprivation of occupation, they may still amount to harassment under Protection from Eviction Act 1977.
A person will commit the offence of harassment, where he/she seeks to get the tenant to give up occupation of the whole or part of the premises, or
Where such person prevents a tenant from exercising his/her right to quiet and peaceful enjoyment of his property.
Civil and Criminal Remedies
Where a landlord or any other person is found guilty of the offences of harassment or where he/she recovers the property unlawfully; he/she will be liable on summary conviction to a fine, or to imprisonment for up to six months. The tenant can also seek for monetary compensation and injunction, however, the case for civil remedy must be brought under civil proceedings rules.
While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information provided in this article, it does not constitute legal advice and cannot be relied upon as such. Each legal case and issue may have unique facts and circumstances, as a result legalally does not accept any responsibility for liabilities arising as a result of reliance upon the information provided. For further help and guidance, you can always rely on and seek advice from our experienced lawyers.