The ex-wife of an RAF squadron leader, who was still living in his married quarters five years after their relationship ended and he moved out, is facing eviction after failing to persuade the High Court that her lack of security of tenure violated her human rights.
The woman had argued that her weak position, when compared to local authority or social tenants, was discriminatory and incompatible with her right to respect for her home and private life. It was also submitted that, if forced to move out, she would face street homelessness as the local authority would be unlikely to accept that it had a duty to re-house her.
However, in opening the way for the Ministry of Defence to take steps to enforce her departure from the property, the High Court noted that only her husband had ever had a licence to occupy the property, ‘to enable him better to perform his duties as a servant of the Crown’.
The property was one of 50,000 similar homes owned by the Ministry of Defence and used to accommodate services personnel and it was ‘just not viable’ to argue that the woman had a right to continue in occupation of the property independently of her husband, who moved out in 2007 and had since divorced her.
Upholding the MoD’s claim to possession of the property, the Court found that it had fulfilled its public duties and observed: "Our housing laws seek a balance between the rights of the individual and the rights of the society to which they belong”.
The woman had been married to the squadron leader for 15 years before he moved out and received notice to quit a month after his departure. Lawyers representing the MoD assured the Court that no immediate steps would be taken to evict her and that she would be given reasonable time to quit the property.