Housing Rights: Breakthrough ruling by the Council of Europe


5 June 2008: the European Committee of Social Rights (ECSR), the Council of Europe body responsible for monitoring the implementation of the European Social Charter, reached the unanimous decision that France is in violation of the Charter with regards to housing rights.

The Council of Europe considers that the full enjoyment of rights is the measure for evaluating public policies and defines their quality standards. This decision provides for case-law which is useful in courts on a local, national and international level and is a step towards a more social Europe.

Article 31 of the revised European Social Charter of 1996 is devoted to the right to housing and reads: With a view to ensuring the effective exercise of the right to housing, the Parties undertake to take measures designed:

1. to promote access to housing of an adequate standard;

2. to prevent and reduce homelessness with a view to its gradual elimination;

3. to make the price of housing accessible to those without adequate

The ECSR has ruled that France is not in conformity with Article 31 on six grounds. These include the poor implementation of, or insufficient progress in, existing measures relating to: inadequate housing conditions; preventing evictions; reducing homelessness; providing social housing aimed at the most deprived; social housing allocation; and discrimination against Travellers. In particular, the ESCR found that measures currently in place to reduce the number of homeless are insufficient, both in quantitative and qualitative terms.

FEANTSA first lodged its collective complaint in November 2006, arguing that despite ambitious laws and policies, France had failed to effectively implement the right to housing for all, especially for the most vulnerable. Although housing rights are enshrined in widely ratified international instruments and in several European States national laws, their concrete implementation remains inadequate in many countries.

FEANTSA considers the ruling of the ECSR to be important in that it addresses and clarifies a number of essential elements concerning State
obligations in the promotion and implementation of the right to housing.
It will certainly contribute to the building of international standards.

FEANTSA also acknowledges that since November 2006, France has adopted a number of encouraging initiatives, including a law on the enforceable right to housing (DALO). However, further action and progress are crucial to ensure that everyones right to housing is fully and effectively implemented.

Says Freek Spinnewijn, Director of FEANTSA, FEANTSA welcomes this landmark ruling and will use this tool to encourage other European States to guarantee the right to housing to everyone. Policies should first and foremost target the most vulnerable.

FEANTSA and its members believe the ruling will lead to the promotion of a shared understanding of housing rights and to a more effective implementation in these rights by European States. The ECSRs conclusions should be a driver for change not only in France, but across

To read the complain just clik here

For more details, please visit FEANTSA web site

You can also read the written declaration: Ending street homelessness in Europe