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What is security of tenure?

Security of tenure is a central component of the right to adequate housing. Any initiative related to housing, whether in the context of urban renewal, land management or other development-related projects, or in dealing with recovery after conflicts or disasters, will inevitably have tenure security implications. The lack of security of tenure—in law and practice—makes protection against forced eviction very difficult. This leaves the most vulnerable, such as inhabitants of informal settlements, at risk of a range of human rights violations.

Human rights law mandates that all persons possess a degree of security of tenure, which guarantees legal protection against forced eviction, harassment and other threats. But what are the precise obligations of States to ensure tenure security for their population, and in particular for the most disadvantaged? Are there any practices, policies, and measures to learn from to increase and ensure security of tenure?
The Special Rapporteur on adequate housing was mandated to provide practical guidance for the implementation of the right to adequate housing. For two years she studied different aspects of security of tenure and produced several reports on the topic.

Guiding Principles on security of tenure (2014)

This report (A/HRC/25/54)contains a set of guiding principles to assist States and other relevant actors in addressing the current tenure insecurity crisis faced by the urban poor in an increasingly urbanized world.

Learn more about the report including the inputs from States and stakeholders that informed the guiding principles.

Guiding principles on security of tenure for the Urban Poor: User-friendly PDF in English produced by former Special Rapporteur, Raquel Rolnik

Guide to the guiding principles on security of tenure for the Urban Poor: User-friendly PDF in English produced by former Special Rapporteur, Raquel Rolnik

Report on mapping and framing security of tenure (2013)

In this report (A/HRC/22/46), the Special Rapporteur elaborates upon the concept of security of tenure as a component of the right to adequate housing.

She discusses existing guidance under international human rights law and examines the wide range of existing tenure arrangements, and the prevalent focus on one form of tenure: individual freehold.

Analysis of two alternative housing policies: rental and collective housing (2013)

In this report to the General Assembly’s 68th session (A/68/289), the Special Rapporteur focuses on policies and programmes aimed at promoting forms of tenure other than individual freehold, such as rental and communal forms of tenure, subsidies for rental housing construction, and more.

View recommendations in the full report (A/68/289)

Briefing and background papers

These papers were submitted to the Special Rapporteur to help inform her studies. These papers do not necessarily reflect the views of the Special Rapporteur.