Date of the ruling (Decision on the merits) : October 18th 2006

Jurisdiction : European Committee of Social Rights - Council of Europe

Legal basis : Article 16 (right of the family to social, legal and economic protection) and Article E (non-discrimination) of the Revised European Social Charter.

The ERRC alleged that Bulgaria discriminated against Roma in the field of housing, with the result that the Roma families were segregated in housing matters, lived in substandars housing conditions with inadequate infrastructure, lacked legal security of tenure, and were subject to forced evictions. For all these reasons the housing situation of Roma amounted to a violation of Article 16 of the Revised Charter read alone or in conjunction with Article E by Bulgaria. The Committee considered that the complaint raised two specific issues : the inadequate housing situation of Roma families and the lack of proper amenities / the lack of legal security of tenure and the forced eviction of Roma families from sites or dwellings unlawfully occupied by them. According to the Committee, Article 16 provides for the right to housing of families as an element of the right of the family to social, legal and economic protection (see its interpretation of the notion of the right to housing under Article 16 with EERC v. Greece, complaint n° 15/2003, 08.12.2004).

Results and key consequences of the case : The Committee held that : the situation concerning the inadequate housing of Roma families and the lack of proper amenities / and the lack of legal security of tenure and the non-respect of the conditions accompanying evictions of Roma families from dwellings unlawfully occupied by them, constituted a violation of Article 16 taken together with Article E.

Positive obligations for the State derived from this case law :

About public policies : "The state must take the legal and practical measures which are necessary and adequate to the goal of the effective protection of the right to housing."

About adequate housing : "The temporary supply of shelter cannot be considered as adequate and individuals should be provided with adequate housing within a reasonable period."

About evictions : "Illegal occupation of a dwelling may justify the eviction of the illegal occupants. However the criteria of illegal occupation must not be unduly wide, the eviction should take place in accordance with the applicable rules of procedure and these sould be sufficiently protective of the rights of the persons concerned." Moreover, "the States Parties must make sure that evictions are justified and are carried out in conditions that respect the dignity of the persons concerned, and that alternative accomodation is available. The law must also establish eviction procedures, specifying when thay may not be carried out (for example, at night or during winter), provide legal remedies and offer legal aid to those who need it to seek redress from the courts. Compensation for illegal evictions must also be provided."

About homelessness : "Though state authorities enjoy a wide margin of appreciation as to the taking of measures concerning town planning, they must strike the balance between the general interest and the fundamental rights of individuals, in the particular case the right to housing and its corollary of not making individual becoming homeless."


To learn more :

To read the full case, click here.

To read the Resolution of the Committee of Ministers, click here.

Council of Europe - Committee of Social Rights - European Social Charter
Article 16 - The right of the family to social, legal and economic protection
Article E - Non-discrimination
EU Housing Rights
Squats and slums