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Squatters’ rights

Adam Heppinstall explains how the Human Rights Act has affected squatters’ rights

13 September 2002

Evicting squatters used to be relatively easy. A 30-second application under RSC Ord 113 before the Masters in the Bear Garden followed by an appointment with the under-sheriff used to do the trick. Times, however, have changed. Part 55 CPR has introduced new forms and a new procedure and a new rule requiring commencement in the local county court save in exceptional circumstances. However, the Human Rights Act 1998 has also raised new obstacles to regaining possession from unlawful occupiers. Statement by ECtHR This is largely because the Court of Appeal in Qazi v Harrow LBC [2001] EWCA 1834. has approved the following statement made by the European Court of Human Rights in Buckley v United Kingdom (1996) 23 EHRR 101: “The concept of ‘home’ within the meaning of Art 8 is not limited to those which are lawfully occupied or which have been lawfully established. ‘Home’ is an autonomous concept which does not depend on classification under domestic law...

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