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The right to peaceful enjoyment of possessions

The right to peaceful enjoyment of possessions is protected by Article 1 Protocol 1 of the Human Rights Act.

Key information

Last updated: 09th November 2022


This right often comes up in:
Health, care & social work, learning disability and/or autism, LGBTQ+ rights, mental health and capacity and welfare support


Non-absolute right

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How might this right be relevant to my life?

This protects our right to enjoy our possessions without interference, deprivation, or control of these possessions by a government or public body.

‘Possessions’ means things like land, property and objects you own, as well as shares, pensions, money, and certain types of welfare benefits.

Some examples of when your right to peaceful enjoyment of possessions might be at risk include:

  • Blanket policies banning people from using their mobile phones while they are admitted to a mental health unit.

  • If staff in a health or care service confiscate personal objects as a form of punishment. This might also affect the right to be free from inhuman and degrading treatment (Article 3) and the right to private and family life (Article 8).

  • Policies on welfare benefits which have a worse impact on certain groups of people, such as carers, people with care and support needs, or survivors of domestic abuse.

  • Social housing providers failing to adequately maintain property which could result in serious harm to tenants.

  • If a public authority purchases property from an individual and does not pay them a fair amount for it.

Can my right to peaceful enjoyment of possessions be restricted by a public official?

Yes – our right to peaceful enjoyment of possessions is a non-absolute right. If a public official is deciding to restrict your right to peaceful enjoyment of possessions, they must go through a test. They must be able to show that their decision is:


There is a law which allows public officials to take that action or decision.


The restriction has to be for a good reason. This could be to protect you or others from harm, to protect your other rights, or to protect other people’s rights.


They have thought about other things they could do, but there is no other way to protect you or other people. It is the least restrictive option.


You can ask the public official about their decision or action and ask them to tell you how it was lawful, legitimate and proportionate.

If you can think of a way to deal with this situation or decision that is less restrictive to you then you can raise it with the public official as the decision may not be proportionate.

What duties do public officials have?

To respect your right:

This means public officials should not interfere with your right to peaceful enjoyment of possessions, unless it is necessary and they can show that this is the case.

To protect your right:

This means people working in public bodies should protect your right to peaceful enjoyment of possessions if they know, or they should know, that this right is at risk.

To fulfil your right:

This means that when decisions are made about your right to peaceful enjoyment of possessions you must be treated fairly. When things go wrong they should be investigated and steps should be taken to try and stop the same thing happening again.