A man who moved into his brother's flat a month after the latter died has been ordered to leave the property after the Master of the Rolls ruled that he is, and always has been, a trespasser in the property.
The man moved into the flat in 2009. However, Birmingham City Council refused his application to succeed to his deceased brother’s tenancy and said his occupation of the property was without its ‘knowledge or approval’.
The man claimed his right to remain in the flat was safeguarded by Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which enshrines the right to respect for family life.
However, he was given 28 days in which to leave the property after lawyers representing the council argued successfully at the Court of Appeal (Civil Division) that he had always been a trespasser in the flat.
When earlier considering the man’s case at Birmingham County Court, a judge had refused to make a possession order, ruling that such an order would be a ‘disproportionate interference’ with his Article 8 rights.
However, upholding the council’s appeal against that decision, the Master of the Rolls, Lord Neuberger, said that the county court judge had been ‘over-influenced by the personal sympathy which anyone would feel’ for the man’s circumstances.
The judge, sitting with Lords Justice Longmore and Gross, said council officials had ‘acted properly in warning him that he may not succeed to his brother’s tenancy’.
The man ‘never had a right to occupy the premises’ said Lord Neuberger, who concluded: ‘He entered the property as a trespasser, and a trespasser he has remained’.