The eviction of wifes from a state owned dormitory after five years of illegal residence violated their right to residence and was not necessary in a democratic society
Popov and others v. Russia 27.11.2018 (no. 44560/11)
State owned dormitories and right to residence. Decision regarding the eviction of wifes female from state owned dormitory provided to their husbants who worked in the Treasury Security Service in the 1990s The ECtHR found that the dormitory where they illegally resided for five consecutive years, was a residence in accordance with Article 8 of ECHR. Their eviction violated the fair balance between the public interest in recovering the illegal property and the right of adult women in relation to respect for their home and was not “necessary in a democratic society”. Infringement of Article 8 of the ECHR.
The applicants are four families, including 12 Russian nationals and one Ukrainian national, born
between 1969 and 2009 and living in Moscow.
The case concerned the domestic courts’ decisions to evict the female applicants from rooms they
had been sharing in a State-owned dormitory building with the male applicants, who are their
husbands, and their children.
The male applicants were workers for the security service of the Ministry of Finance in the 1990s and
were provided with accommodation by their employer in rooms in its dormitory building in Moscow.
They were registered as living there on a temporary basis. The men’s wives moved into the rooms
after their marriages between 2002 and 2005. The couples had children between 2003 and 2009.
In 2007 the Federal Treasury, which took over the building in 2001, began court proceedings to evict
the female applicants from the rooms they occupied with their families. In September of that year
the Simonovskiy District Court of Moscow ordered their eviction. Among other reasons, it cited the
fact that the accommodation was aimed at temporary occupation, that the women had never had
official permission to live there, and the husbands did not have tenancy agreements.
The eviction order was never carried out, but in 2009 the Treasury began new proceedings to have
the women removed. The women brought a counterclaim to have their right to live in the rooms
recognised. The local authorities intervened on their behalf, opposing the eviction order. The courts
again ordered their eviction, which has not so far been carried out. In 2011, in a separate set of
proceedings, the courts recognised the male applicants’ right to occupy the rooms, but they were
not given social tenancies.
The adult female applicants complained under Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life
and the home) of the European Convention of an alleged violation of the right to respect for their
home. All the applicants complained under the same provision of a violation of the right to respect
for their private and family life.
THE DECISION OF THE COURT
Given that the adult female applicants had lived in the residential accommodation in the dormitory building for at least five years, it was to be considered their “home” for the purposes of Article 8. Furthermore, even though the eviction had not yet been executed, the obligation to vacate the building had amounted to an interference with their right to respect for their home. The interference had had a legal basis and had pursued the legitimate aim of protecting the rights of other persons living in the building.
In respect of the Government’s claim that the interference had been necessary to protect the rights of other individuals who had obtained accommodation in the dormitory building lawfully, the Court observed that those individuals had not been sufficiently individualised to allow their personal circumstances to be balanced against those of the adult female applicants. The only established interests at stake had thus been those of the Treasury, which had wished to recover its property from the adult female applicants’ unlawful possession.
In deciding to evict the adult female applicants, the domestic courts had taken into account that they had been occupying the dormitory building premises unlawfully, that they had been registered as living elsewhere and retained the right to use other accommodation, and, lastly, that they could have decided themselves which parent their minor children would live with. While the fact that the adult female applicants had established their home in the dormitory building without legal grounds had been relevant for the assessment of the proportionality of their eviction, as was the availability of alternative accommodation, the domestic courts had not given sufficient weight to those applicants’ particular circumstances. The case material indicated that each family occupied a room, and that in the event of the adult female applicants being evicted, their husbands and children would continue to occupy the same space per family. Moreover, the Treasury had not claimed before the domestic courts that those rooms would be allocated to someone else, or that third parties could be moved into the space created by the eviction of the adult female applicants. Given the aforementioned, the national courts had failed to balance the competing rights and, as a consequence, to determine the proportionality of the interference with the adult female applicants’ right to respect for their home.
The interference had therefore not been “necessary in a democratic society”.
Violation of Article 8 (right to respect for home) – in respect of the adult female applicants
Just satisfaction: EUR 7,500 to each of the four adult female applicants for non-pecuniary damage,
and EUR 1,000 to the adult female applicants jointly for costs and expenses(echrcaselaw.com editing).