Communicated on 9 January 2018
Application no. 30472/17Zatie Yuseinova YUSEINOVA and othersagainst Bulgarialodged on 25 April 2017
STATEMENT OF FACTS
A list of the applicants is set out in the appendix.
The circumstances of the case
The facts of the case, as submitted by the applicants, may be summarised as follows.
The six applicants are members of six different families, comprising altogether 21 persons, of Bulgarian nationals who are of Roma ethnicity. They all live in the same neighbourhood “Hadzhi Dimitar” in the city of Plovdiv, in several solid brick houses, all of which are situated and registered at No. 4 and No. 6, Pavel Bobekov Street. The applicants built their houses unlawfully on municipal land at different times between 1991 and 2005. The houses are connected to water and electricity supplies. All six applicants have their address registration at those houses and four of them have been paying local taxes. The municipal authorities have been knowingly tolerating the applicants living there throughout the years.
The houses described above are the applicants’ only dwelling. Three of the applicants are unemployed, as are most of the members of their families, who include a total of six children the youngest of whom is a few months old. The applicants and their families live under the poverty threshold for the country.
It transpires from the documents in the file that on 12 February 2015 the municipal authorities informed the applicants that the mayor of the Plovdiv “North” district had issued orders on 30 January 2015 for the demolition of their houses. The indicated grounds for demolition were that the houses had been built unlawfully, in particular, without a permit in breach of sections 148(1) and 137(3) of the Territorial Organisation Act 2001 (“the Act”), and without a right to build on a third party’s estate, in breach of section 182(1) of the Act, and because of that had to be demolished in accordance with section 223(1)(8) of the Act. The mayor’s orders gave the applicants thirty days for voluntary compliance, specifying that failure to do so would result in the municipality pursuing demolition of the houses fourteen days after the expiry of the thirty-day period.
The applicants did not comply with the mayor’s orders.
The first, second and third applicants, and the husband of the sixth applicant (who died in December 2016), brought judicial review proceedings challenging the demolition orders. These plaintiffs claimed that their houses were stable and did not represent danger for the life or limb of their inhabitants, and that they had applied to have the houses legalised and declared “tolerable constructions”. The plaintiffs complained in particular that demolishing the houses would make the members of their families homeless and expose them...