The report, ‘The Right to Adequate Housing’ by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights explains what “the right to adequate housing is, illustrates what it means for specific individuals and groups, and then elaborates upon States’ related obligations.”
Recognized under the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and under the 1966 International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the right to adequate housing is considered – under international law – as part of the right to an adequate standard of living.
As outlined in the report, the key aspects of the right to adequate housing include:
Freedoms (i.e. protections against forced evictions)
Entitlements (i.e. equal and non-discriminatory access to adequate housing)
Adequate housing must provide more than four walls and a roof. Must at a minimum meet the following requirements:
Security of tenure
Availability of services, materials, facilities and infrastructure
If the right to adequate housing is not met, this can inevitably “affect the enjoyment of a wide range of other human rights and vice versa.” For instance, the rights to work, health, social security, vote, privacy and/or education are some of the many examples of rights that can be impaired as a result of inadequate living conditions. On the other hand, if these other basic human rights are not being met, then the right to access adequate housing is consequently impacted.
Moreover, vulnerable groups of people such as women, children, migrants, people experiencing homelessness, and people with disabilities – to name a few – can oftentimes find themselves discriminated against and excluded from exercising their right to adequate housing. A number of treaties under international law provide protections for such groups but it is important for states to “tailor their housing laws and policies to those most in need rather than merely targeting majority groups.”
Citation: “The Right to Adequate Housing.” The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, November 2009. https://www.ohchr.org/sites/default/files/Documents/Publications/training1en.pdf.