Right to housing

economic and social right

The Right to housing is the idea that everyone should have the possibility to live somewhere, to affordable housing and shelter free from homelessness. Many countries recognise it. It is also in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. This means it is part of international law.



The base for the right to housing in international law can be found in Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The declaration recognises the right as part of the right to an adequate standard of living.[1] It states that:

Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability (...) or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.

Article 11(1) of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) also guarantees the right to housing as part of the right to an adequate standard of living among economic, social and cultural rights.[1]

In international human rights law the right to housing is regarded as a freestanding right. This was clarified in the 1991 General Comment no 4 on Adequate Housing by the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.[2] The general comment provides an authoritative interpretation of the right to housing in legal terms under international law.[1]

The right to housing is also mentioned in Article 28 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Article 16 of the European Social Charter (Article 31 of the Revised European Social charter) and in the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights.[3] According to UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, aspects of right to housing under ICESCR include: legal security of tenure; availability of services, materials, facilities and infrastructure; affordability; habitability; accessibility; location and cultural adequacy.[4] As a political goal, right to housing was declared in F. D. Roosevelt's 1944 speech on the Second Bill of Rights.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Edgar, Bill; Doherty, Joe & Meert, Henk (2002). Access to housing: homelessness and vulnerability in Europe. The Policy Press. p. 17. ISBN 978-1-86134-482-3.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  2. Terminski, Bogumil (2011). "The right to adequate housing in international human rights law: Polish transformation experiences" (PDF). Revista Latinoamericana de Derechos Humanos. 22(2) (241). ISSN 1659-4304. Retrieved December 20, 2014.
  3. "ACHR decision in case SERAC v. Nigeria - see para. 60 (p. 25)". Archived from the original on 2012-06-05. Retrieved 2014-12-21.
  4. The right to adequate housing (Art.11 (1)). CESCR General comment 4 - see para. 8