Human rights at home

Guidance for social housing providers

Block of flats

Human rights have special significance in relation to social housing.

Quality of housing can have a huge impact on wellbeing. Inadequate housing increases the risk of severe ill health and disability; it can also lead to poor mental health, lower educational attainment, unemployment and poverty. The importance of housing is recognised in the United Nations Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which includes 'the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living for himself and his family, including adequate ... housing'. The United Kingdom is legally bound by this treaty. Protecting people's human rights in housing is therefore important in its own right.

If you work in social housing, this guide is for you. Poor housing can affect a person's health, work, education, relationships and life chances, which is why the right to respect for a person's home is in the Human Rights Act. By providing social housing in a way that is compatible with human rights laws, your organisation can make a positive difference to people's lives.

Guidance on the law

There have been a number of recent cases in British courts as well as the European Court of Human Rights concerning the housing rights of individuals. This can be confusing for social housing providers, so as we learn more about what human rights mean for tenants and their landlords, we want to help you get it right.

This guidance is intended to be a practical tool, to build your understanding and confidence in your ability to spot and deal with human rights issues. It provides examples of how human rights can be relevant throughout the housing journey from allocation to the termination of a tenancy. It also provides a checklist to help social housing providers review their policies and practices for human rights compatibility and address any issues effectively.

Who wrote the guidance?

The Commission has developed this guidance in close consultation with key stakeholders in the social housing sector across Britain. We would like to express our thanks to the advisory group for their invaluable help. We hope you will find it useful, and we look forward to working with you to bring human rights into the homes of your tenants.

Further reading

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