Housing legislation, Human rights (law), International law, housing rights
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to outline and examine the growing corpus of housing rights
and assess their relevance and applicability to complex contemporary housing systems across the
Design/methodology/approach – The paper sets out the principal instruments and commentaries
on housing rights developed by the United Nations, regional and other bodies. It assesses their
relevance in the context of contemporary analysis of housing systems, organized and directed by
networks of legal and other professionals within particular domains.
Findings – Housing rights instruments are accepted by all States across the world at the level of
international law, national constitutions and laws. The findings suggest that there are significant gaps
in the international law conception and framework of housing rights, and indeed, human rights
generally, which create major obstacles for the effective implementation of these rights. There is a
preoccupation with one element of housing systems, that of subsidized or social housing. However,
effective housing rights implementation requires application at meso-, micro- and macro-levels of
modern, dynamic housing systems as a whole. Epistemic communities of professionals develop and
shape housing law and policy within these domains. The housing rights paradigm must be further
fashioned for effective translation into contemporary housing systems.
Research limitations/implications – The development of housing rights precedents, both within
international and national law, is leading to a wide and diffuse corpus of legislation and case law. More
research is needed on specific examples of effective coupling between housing rights and elements of
Originality/value – This paper offers housing policy makers and lawyers an avenue into the
extensive jurisprudence and writings on housing rights, which will inevitably become part of the
lexicon of housing law across the world. It also highlights the limitations of housing rights
implementation, but offers some new perspectives on more effective application of these rights.