On 29 May 2012, the European Court of Human Rights handed down the judgment in the case Bjedov v. Croatia. The Court scrutinized the eviction of a senior citizen from the flat she lived in in light of the right to respect for home under article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
The applicant, who was born in 1933 and received only a small pension, lived in a flat which she had rented on favorable conditions which were foreseen by law for indigent persons. According to this law, tenants could by the flat they lived in subject to certain conditions. The applicant had sought to exercise this right. Since her request had remained unanswered, she had filed a law suit against the city, which was the owner of the flat. In return, the city had initiated civil proceedings to evict the applicant from her flat. Following a number of appeals, the domestic court had ordered the eviction of the applicant by final decision.
The applicant contended inter alia that her eviction constituted a violation of her right to home under article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
The European Court of Human Rights reiterated its jurisdiction that the right to home applied not only to residences occupied in a lawful manner. Thus, the applicant could invoke article 8 ECHR regardless of the final decision by domestic courts ordering her eviction.
The Court stated that the eviction order interfered with the applicant’s right to home. It then turned to the question whether this interference was justified pursuant to article 8 paragraph 2 ECHR.
Referring to the relevant Croatian laws, the Court found that the eviction order was based on a law. It reiterated, however, that the eviction also had to be necessary in a democratic society. In this respect, the European Court of Human Rights noted that the domestic courts had not assessed at all whether the eviction was necessary in a democratic society. Before Croatian courts, the applicant had expressly relied on her right to respect for home under article 8 ECHR; she had also advanced the argument that her eviction would render her homeless and submitted a medical certificate confirming the risks which an eviction would impose for her health, because of her high age. Yet, the domestic courts had failed to balance her interest to remain in the flat with the city’s interest in an eviction.
For these reasons, the European Court of Human Rights that the applicant’s eviction was not necessary in a democratic society and found a violation of article 8 ECHR.