CASE OF GANEYEVA v. RUSSIA
(Application no. 7839/15)
3 October 2017
This judgment is final but it may be subject to editorial revision.
In the case of Ganeyeva v. Russia,
The European Court of Human Rights (Third Section), sitting as a Committee composed of:
Luis López Guerra,
Jolien Schukking, judges,
and Fatoş Aracı, Deputy Section Registrar,
Having deliberated in private on 12 September 2017,
Delivers the following judgment, which was adopted on that date:
1. The case originated in an application (no. 7839/15) against the Russian Federation lodged with the Court under Article 34 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (“the Convention”) by a Russian national, Ms Elza Rinatovna Ganeyeva (“the applicant”), on 27 January 2015.
2. The applicant was represented by Ms A. Maralyan. The Russian Government (“the Government”) were represented initially by Mr G. Matyushkin, the Representative of the Russian Federation to the European Court of Human Rights, and then by his successor in that office, Mr M. Galperin.
3. On 28 August 2015 the complaints under Article 8 of the Convention and Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 to the Convention were communicated to the Government and the remainder of the application was declared inadmissible pursuant to Rule 54 § 3 of the Rules of Court.
I. THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE CASE
4. The applicant was born in 1986 and lives in Ufa.
A. Prior transactions with the flat
5. On 26 December 2006 a new block of flats was commissioned by the Town of Ufa at 66/2, Ulitsa Kommunarov, Ufa.
6. According to the documents submitted by U. to state registration authorities, on 19 July 2010 the Ordzhonikidzevskiy District Court of Ufa recognised his title to the flat at 66/2-39, Ulitsa Kommunarov, Ufa. The state registration authorities registered U.’s title.
7. On 30 October 2010 U. sold the flat to M. On 22 November 2010 the state registration authorities registered the said transaction and M.’s title to the flat.
8. On 12 February 2011 Z., acting on M.’s behalf by virtue of the power of attorney, and the applicant signed a contract according to which A. sold the flat to the applicant. Z. and the applicant submitted the documents for the registration of the transaction and the transfer of the title to the flat to the applicant.
9. According to the applicant, she paid the amount due under the contract to Z. and moved into the flat while her application for the registration of the transfer of the title to the flat to her was still pending.
B. Civil proceedings in respect of the flat
10. On an unspecified date a third party brought a civil action challenging U.’s sale of the flat to M. and the latter’s title to the flat.
11. On 28 February 2011 the Ordzhonikidzevskiy District Court of Ufa issued an injunction in respect of the transactions with the flat.
12. On 3 March 2011 the state registration authorities informed the applicant that her application for the registration of the transfer of the title to the flat could not be granted pending the outcome of the civil proceedings concerning the title to the flat.
13. On 24 December 2012 the Supreme Court of the Republic of Bashkortostan dismissed the third party’s claims in respect of the flat in full.
14. On an unspecified date the Housing Foundation of the Republic of Bashkortostan brought a civil claim seeking, inter alia, the invalidation of M.’s title to the flat and the applicant’s eviction.
15. On 23 August 2013 the District Court granted the claims in full. It invalidated the purchase of the flat by M. and ordered the applicant’s eviction. The court considered that the applicant had not acquired the title to the flat and had no legal basis for moving into the flat and residing there.
16. On 7 November 2013 the Supreme Court of Republic of Bashkortostan upheld the judgment of 23 August 2013 on appeal.
17. On 12 May 2014 the Supreme Court rejected the applicant’s cassation appeal.
18. On 28 August 2014 the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation rejected the applicant’s second cassation appeal.
19. On an unspecified date the applicant asked the District Court to stay the eviction proceedings. She submitted that the flat had been her only place of residence and that, in view of her financial situation, she was unable to buy or rent another flat. On 24 March 2014 the District Court stayed the eviction proceedings for three months.
20. On 24 February 2015 the applicant was evicted.
II. RELEVANT DOMESTIC LAW
21. The ownership of real (immovable) property and other proprietary rights in respect of real property, their emergence, transfer of termination are subject to state registration (Article 131 § 1 of the Russian Civil Code). Such rights come into existence at the time of the state registration (Article 8 § 2 of the Russian Civil Code in effect prior to 1 March 2013; Article 8.1 of the Russia Civil Code in effect after 1 March 2013).
I. ALLEGED VIOLATION OF ARTICLE 1 OF PROTOCOL No. 1 TO THE CONVENTION
22. The applicant complained that she had been deprived of the flat in contravention of Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 to the Convention which reads as follows:
“Every natural or legal person is entitled to the peaceful enjoyment of his possessions. No one shall be deprived of his possessions except in the public interest and subject to the conditions provided for by law and by the general principles of international law.
The preceding provisions shall not, however, in any way impair the right of a State to enforce such laws as it deems necessary to control the use of property in accordance with the general interest or to secure the payment of taxes or other contributions or penalties.”
23. The Government submitted that the applicant had not acquired ownership of the flat and that the facts complained of by her had not disclosed a violation of the rights alleged.
24. The applicant maintained her complaint. She considered that the flat had constituted her possession despite the state authorities’ refusal to recognise her title to it and that the judicial authorities’ decision to transfer the title to the flat to the municipality had amounted to the interference with her possessions in contravention of Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 to the Convention.
25. The Court reiterates that an applicant can allege a violation of Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 only in so far as the impugned decisions related to his or her “possessions” within the meaning of this provision. “Possessions” can be either “existing possessions” or assets, including claims, in respect of which the applicant can argue that he or she has at least a “legitimate expectation” of obtaining effective enjoyment of a property right. By contrast, the hope of recognition of a property right which it has been impossible to exercise effectively cannot be considered a “possession” within the meaning of Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 to the Convention (see, among other numerous authorities, Kopecký v. Slovakia [GC], no. 44912/98, § 35, ECHR 2004-IX).
26. Turning to the circumstances of the present cases, the Court notes that at no time did the applicant hold title to the flat. Nor did she submit any evidence suggesting that the authorities had, at least, de facto acknowledged that she had a proprietary interest in the flat. The fact that she chose to pay for the flat prior to obtaining the title to it and had been allowed by the seller of the flat to move in is insufficient for the Court to conclude that the flat constituted the applicant’s existing possession. Lastly, the Court discerns nothing in the materials before it to establish that the applicant could legitimately expect her rights in respect of the flat to be recognised by the domestic authorities.
27. It follows that this complaint is incompatible ratione materiae with the provisions of the Convention within the meaning of Article 35 § 3 and must be rejected pursuant to Article 35 § 4.
II. ALLEGED VIOLATION OF ARTICLE 8 OF THE CONVENTION
28. The applicant complained that her eviction had been contrary to the provisions set out in Article 8 of the Convention, which reads as follows:
“1. Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.
2. There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.”
29. The Government submitted that the facts complained of by the applicant did not disclose a violation of the Article 8 of the Convention. The applicant had moved into the flat and resided there in the absence of any legal basis. The applicant had not acquired ownership of the flat and, therefore, had not had a right to reside there. The applicant’s eviction had been in compliance with applicable laws and pursued a legitimate aim. The vacated flat was to be re-assigned within the municipal social mortgage programme. Lastly, the Government pointed out that the applicant had moved to another flat where she resided to date.
30. The applicant maintained her complaint. She argued that the flat had been her home and she had not had another place where she could have resided. The authorities’ decision to evict her had not been in compliance with laws or necessary in a democratic society.
31. The Court notes that the application is not manifestly ill-founded within the meaning of Article 35 § 3 (a) of the Convention. It further notes that it is not inadmissible on any other grounds. It must therefore be declared admissible.
32. The Court accepts, and it is not disputed by the Government, that the flat constituted the applicant’s home and that the applicant’s eviction from that flat amounted to an interference with her right to respect for home.
33. The Court also considers that the judicial authorities’ decision to evict the applicant was in accordance with the law. The applicant did not acquire a title to the flat and, as pointed out by the domestic judicial authorities and the Government, had no right to reside there.
34. As to the existence of a legitimate aim of the impugned measure, the Court takes note of the Government’s argument and accepts that the applicant’s eviction catered for the needs of the municipal housing programme.
35. The Court will therefore proceed to the question of whether the interference was “necessary in a democratic society”. It reiterates, in this respect, that the margin of appreciation in housing matters is narrower when it comes to the rights guaranteed by Article 8 compared to those in Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 to the Convention, regard had to the central importance of Article 8 of the Convention to the individual’s identity, self-determination, physical and moral integrity, maintenance of relationships with others and a settled and secure place in the community (see Gladysheva v. Russia, no. 7097/10, § 93, with further references, 6 December 2011).
36. The Court observes that an order was made for the applicant’s eviction automatically by the domestic courts once they refused to recognise the applicant’s title to the flat. They made no further analysis as to the proportionality of the measure to be applied against the applicant. However, the guarantees of the Convention require that any interference with an applicant’s right to respect for his or her home not only be based on the law but should also be proportionate, under paragraph 2 of Article 8 of the Convention, to the legitimate aim pursued. In the case under consideration, the national courts did not weigh the municipality’s interests against the applicant’s right to respect for her home. Once the courts established that the applicant had not been the owner of the flat, they gave that aspect paramount importance, without taking into account her housing needs. The national judicial authorities thus failed to provide the applicant with a proper review of the proportionality of her eviction.
37. The foregoing considerations are sufficient for the Court to conclude that the interference complained of was not necessary in a democratic society. There has been accordingly a violation of Article 8 of the Convention.
III. APPLICATION OF ARTICLE 41 OF THE CONVENTION
38. Article 41 of the Convention provides:
“If the Court finds that there has been a violation of the Convention or the Protocols thereto, and if the internal law of the High Contracting Party concerned allows only partial reparation to be made, the Court shall, if necessary, afford just satisfaction to the injured party.”
39. The applicant claimed 1,600,000 Russian roubles (RUB) and EUR 30,000 euros (EUR) in respect of pecuniary and non-pecuniary damage respectively.
40. The Government considered the applicant’s claims (1) in respect of pecuniary damage unsubstantiated and (2) in respect of non-pecuniary damage excessive and unreasonable.
41. The Court does not discern any causal link between the violation found and the pecuniary damage alleged; it therefore rejects this claim. On the other hand, it awards the applicant EUR 7,500 in respect of non-pecuniary damage.
B. Costs and expenses
42. The applicant also claimed (1) RUB 208,480 for the legal costs and expenses incurred in the domestic proceedings, (2) EUR 2,950 for the costs and expenses incurred before the Court and (3) RUB 16,330 for medical expenses.
43. The Government submitted that the applicant’s claims in respect of the costs and expenses incurred in the domestic proceedings had no relevance to the present case. They further noted that the applicant had failed to submit any document to substantiate her claims in respect of the costs and expenses incurred before the Court. Lastly, they discerned no causal link between the applicant’s medical costs and expenses and the proceedings before the Court.
44. Regard being had to the documents in its possession and to its case-law, the Court considers it reasonable to award the sum of EUR 1,000 for costs and expenses in the domestic proceeding and the proceedings before the Court. EUR 500 of this sum is to be paid directly to the applicant and EUR 500 into the bank account of Ms A. Maralyan.
C. Default interest
45. The Court considers it appropriate that the default interest rate should be based on the marginal lending rate of the European Central Bank, to which should be added three percentage points.
FOR THESE REASONS, THE COURT, UNANIMOUSLY,
1. Declares the complaint under Article 8 of the Convention concerning the applicant’s eviction admissible and the remainder of the application inadmissible;
2. Holds that there has been a violation of Article 8 of the Convention;
(a) that the respondent State is to pay the applicant, within three months the following amounts, to be converted into the currency of the respondent State, at the rate applicable at the date of settlement:
(i) EUR 7,500 (seven thousand five hundred euros), plus any tax that may be chargeable, in respect of non-pecuniary damage;
(ii) EUR 1,000 (one thousand euros), plus any tax that may be chargeable to the applicant, in respect of costs and expenses. EUR 500 of this sum is to be paid directly to the applicant and EUR 500 into the bank account of Ms A. Maralyan;
(b) that from the expiry of the above-mentioned three months until settlement simple interest shall be payable on the above amounts at a rate equal to the marginal lending rate of the European Central Bank during the default period plus three percentage points;
4. Dismisses the remainder of the applicant’s claim for just satisfaction.
Done in English, and notified in writing on 3 October 2017, pursuant to Rule 77 §§ 2 and 3 of the Rules of Court.
Fatoş Aracı Luis López Guerra
Deputy Registrar President