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Supreme Court rules that Article 8 need not be considered in possession proceedings by private landlord

McDonald v McDonald [2016] UKSC 28

A private sector tenant who had psychiatric and behavioural issues argued that the court was required to carry out an Article 8 assessment in repossession proceedings.  The tenant’s landlords were her parents who had purchased the property by obtaining a secured loan from a private company.  They fell into arrears of the monthly payments and the company sought to repossess the property.

An Article 8 defence was raised due to the tenant’s mental health concerns.  The Supreme Court rejected this defence.  It considered that a private sector tenant was in a weaker position than a public sector tenant because the former had property rights under Article 1 Protocol 1 of the Convention, which had to be balanced against the tenant’s Article 8 rights.  The dispute had arisen from a contractual relationship and the legislature had prescribed how the parties’ respective Convention rights were to be respected. 

To hold otherwise would mean that the Convention was effectively enforceable between private citizens and the landlord’s Article 1 Protocol 1 rights would be interfered with unpredictably or result in financial loss.  The Supreme Court supported its reasoning by making reference to the government policy in passing the Housing Act 1988.  This policy aimed to encourage private rental to alleviate the housing crisis.

Read UK Human Rights Blog article here.

ECHR Art. 8, Housing Law, Mental Health