Govanhill Law Centre prevents instant eviction of family of EU citizens without notice
Govanhill Law Centre (GhLC) prevented the instant eviction of a family of European Union nationals with four young children last week by lodging a sheriff court appeal.
Physical ejection from the property was scheduled to take place on Friday at 10am in Govanhill. A sheriff at Glasgow Sheriff Court issued a court order on Thursday to temporarily suspend the ejection, in order to give the family time to secure homeless or alternative accommodation.
GhLC said its client had obtained the lease of a privately let flat in Govanhill, paying a deposit and rent, only to discover they had been “duped”. There is a criminal practice in Glasgow of fraudsters breaking into vacant flats and falsely letting them out to vulnerable low paid EU workers, the law centre added.
GhLC’s client’s case called in court on Wednesday on 48 hours notice (instead of the usual 21 days). The client accepted she would have to leave the flat but asked for a little time to find alternative accommodation. The sheriff refused to do so and granted an immediate extract decree for eviction, and dispensed with the need to serve a charge for removing. The standard practice on decree for eviction is an occupier will have 28 days before eviction by sheriff officers.
The client’s solicitor, GhLC’s senior solicitor, Rachel Moon, obtained instructions for Govan Law Centre’s Mike Dailly to draft an urgent Note of Appeal on Thursday. The Note of Appeal argued that the sheriff’s decree was unlawful as it was a disproportionate interference with the client’s right to respect for her private and family life, and her home, as safeguarded by Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
GhLC said there had been no proper assessment of the proportionality of the granting of an “instantly enforceable” eviction decree as was required standing European human rights jurisprudence including the case of Kay v. UK (2012) 54 E.H.R.R. Some key facts in the case were in dispute and there was no evidential inquiry, the law centre argued.
The court had been made aware the family could not obtain homelessness assistance from the local council upon zero notice, given the need to ingather evidence to satisfy the various residency and work tests for eligibility, and would be destitute and homeless without some period of notice. Despite this, the sheriff had granted decree, which would be immediately enforced with no notice.
Following the sheriff’s order, the family now have an opportunity to secure alternative accommodation with the help of Govanhill Law Centre.