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Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing

Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living, and on the right to non-discrimination in this context

Purpose of the mandate

The right to adequate housing is more than having a roof over one’s head, it is the right to live in safety and dignity in a decent home.

Not all people are able to enjoy this right. Over one billion people live in substandard housing and informal settlements. Every year, several million people lose their home and are displaced as a consequence of development projects, conflicts, natural disasters or the climate crisis. Many of them are subjected to forced evictions. Housing has increasingly been treated as an opportunity for investment, not as a social good and fundamental human right.

This mandate was created to:

  • promote the full realization of adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living;
  • identify practical solutions, best practices, challenges, obstacles and protection gaps in relation to the right to adequate housing; and
  • identify gender-specific vulnerabilities in relation to the right to adequate housing and land.

Read more about the human right to adequate housing.

About the mandate

The mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing was established in the year 2000 by the former Commission on Human Rights (resolution 2000/9). It was most recently renewed in 2020 by Human Rights Council resolution 43/14. Learn more about the mandate.

Current mandate holder

Mr. Balakrishnan Rajagopal © private
Mr. Balakrishnan Rajagopal © private

Mr. Balakrishnan Rajagopal, assumed his function as Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing on 1 May 2020. He is Professor of Law and Development at the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). A lawyer by training, he is an expert on many areas of human rights, including economic, social and cultural rights, the UN system, and the human rights challenges posed by development activities. Read Mr. Rajagopal’s full biography.

Key documents

Flyer: Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing (2021)
PDF: English

OHCHR Fact Sheet on the right to adequate housing (2014)
PDF: العربي | 中文 | English | Français | русский | Español

OHCHR Fact Sheet on forced evictions (2014)
PDF: العربي | 中文 | English | Français | русский | Español

COVID-19 Guidance Notes (2020) on evictions, informal settlements, homelessness, renters and mortgage payers. View page

Guidelines for the implementation of the right to adequate housing (2020)
PDF: العربية | 中文 | English | Français | Pусский | Español

Guiding principles on security of tenure for the urban poor (2014)
PDF: العربية | 中文 | English | Français | Pусский | Español

Basic principles and guidelines on development-based evictions and displacement (2008)
PDF: العربي | 中文 | English | Français | русский | Español

Latest thematic reports

COVID-19 and the right to housing: impacts and the way forward: In his 2020 report to the 75th session of the General Assembly, the Special Rapporteur explores the importance of housing in the defense against COVID-19, and how the right to housing should be a key element of response and recovery measures to the pandemic. View report page | View summary | View document A/75/148

Guidelines for the implementation of the right to adequate housing: This report, presented at the HRC’s 43rd session in March 2020, provides guidance to States in key areas of concern, including homelessness and the unaffordability of housing, migration, evictions, climate change, the upgrading of informal settlements, inequality and the regulation of businesses. View report page | View infographic | View document A/HRC/43/43

The right to housing for indigenous peoples: Housing conditions for indigenous peoples are abhorrent and too often violate the right to adequate housing, depriving them of their right to live in security and dignity. This July 2019 report contains guidance for States, indigenous authorities and other actors on how to ensure that their obligations under international human rights law regarding the right to housing are met in conformity with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. View report page | View document A/74/183

Latest country reports

Mission to Nigeria (13-27 September 2019)
View document A/HRC/43/43/Add.1

Mission to France (April 2019)
View document A/HRC/43/43/Add.2

Latest News


14 December 2020
Campaign: Everyone deserves a safe and loving home, LGBTIQ+ included
Watch on Free & Equal United Nations

19 November 2020
Special Rapporteur speaks out against domestic violence during COVID-19
Watch on the UN Human Rights channel

21 March 2020
Call for global ban of evictions during COVID-19 
Watch on the Special Rapporteur’s channel

Former Special Rapporteurs

Ms. Leilani Farha (Canada)
2014-2020

Ms. Raquel Rolnik (Brazil)
2008-2014

Mr. Miloon Kothari (India)
2000-2008