Right to Housing
The United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights outlines the different elements of the right to adequate housing in its General Comment 4, 1991.
These elements are:
- Legal security of tenure: everyone should be guaranteed security of tenure.
- Availability of services: everyone should have available facilities and infrastructure such as drinking water, energy for cooking, heating and lighting, sanitation and washing facilities, food storage, refuse disposal, site drainage and emergency services.
- Affordable housing: costs associated with housing should not threaten people’s ability to afford other essential goods and services including protection against unreasonable rent levels or unreasonable rent increases.
- Habitable housing: this includes adequate space and protection against the cold, damp, heat, rain, wind or other threats to health or structural hazards and ensuring physical safety.
- Accessible housing: housing should be accessible to everyone without discrimination. Priority should be given to the most marginalised including homeless people and those who are inadequately housed, and special measures should be taken to ensure adequate housing for people with disabilities, older people, those living in areas vulnerable to natural disasters, and others who require them.
- Location: housing should be in a location which allows access to employment options, health-care services, schools, childcare and other social facilities. It should not be located on or near polluted sites.
- Cultural adequacy: housing policy and practice must appropriately enable the expression of cultural identity.
International human rights law recognises that these rights might not be fulfilled all at once, but they must all be “progressively realised”. This means governments must take steps and use the maximum resources they can to improve things over time and to target spending on those most in need.
Housing Rights in Practice
Housing Rights in Practice is a pilot project taking place through SNAP - Scotland’s National Action Plan for Human Rights.
It aims to empower people to tackle substandard housing and living conditions by using human rights. The project is being supported by the Commission and delivered in partnership with Edinburgh Tenants Federation and Participation and the Practice of Rights.