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Qazi v Harrow [2003] UKHL 43

Possession proceedings against a former joint tenant and the right to respect for a home under the European Convention of Human Rights.

Facts

Mr. Qazi and his wife were joint tenants of a council flat. The wife gave notice to terminate the tenancy and left the flat with her daughter. Mr. Qazi’s application for sole tenancy of the family flat was rejected. The Council then began possession proceedings of the flat, yet discovered that Mr. Qazi was co-habiting the house with another woman and her child. Mr. Qazi argued that the possession order was breached Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights as a disproportionate interference with the right to a home. 

Issue

The question arose as to whether the council’s possession proceedings were in contravention of Mr. Qazi’s rights to respect of a home and family life under Article 8.

Held

The House of Lords held that possession proceedings brought by a public authority against a joint tenant following a termination of the tenancy was not a breach of that person’s right to respect a home under Article 8. Firstly, the Court held that following Mr. Qazi’s joint tenant’s termination of the tenancy, the flat cannot be considered his “home” for the purposes of Article 8 at the time of possession as he had no legal nor equitable interest in the flat. Secondly, by a majority of 3-2, the Court held that Article 8’s right to respect of a home and family life is not infringed and the question of proportionality of an eviction is irrelevant when a party is already entitled under domestic law to an unqualified possession of property against a former tenant. The council was exercising its unqualified right of possession under domestic law and Mr. Qazi’s rights under Article 8 were not infringed.


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