On 19 May 2011, the Equality and Human Rights Commission published Human rights at home: Guidance for social housing providers, a guide on the Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA 1998). Under the HRA 1998, social housing providers in England, Scotland and Wales carrying out public functions are legally obliged to deliver their services in a way which respects the human rights of their tenants.The guidance sets out the types of problems which can be faced by social housing providers and gives advice on how to apply the HRA 1998 to issues such as the allocation of housing, the terms of tenancies, rent arrears, anti-social behaviour, repairs and maintenance, terminating a tenancy and eviction.

Which human rights are most applicable to social housing?

  • Article 6: Right to a fair trial - Article 6 is an absolute right. Everyone has the right to a fair and public hearing, before an independent and impartial tribunal, within a reasonable time. This right applies where someone's private rights are at stake, such as in contractual or property disputes.
  • Article 8: Right to respect for private life, family life and the home - everyone has the right to respect for their private and family life and also the right to respect for their home and correspondence. 'Private life' has a very wide meaning. People should be able to live in privacy and be able to live their life in the way that they choose. Their personal information should be kept private and confidential. The right to respect for a person's home is not a right to housing, but is a person's right to access and live in their home without intrusion or interference.
  • Article 14: Prohibition of discrimination - this means that everyone must have equal access to the other rights contained in the HRA, regardless of their race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability, political views or any other personal characteristic.

Helen Hughes, CEO at the Equality and Human Rights Commission states: 'Human rights are about treating people with dignity and respect. These values should be the basic standard for any public service. Human rights are particularly important in relation to social housing, as people living in inadequate housing are more likely to have severe ill health, a disability or poor mental health.'

Social housing providers should bear in mind that the guidance is not an exhaustive list of 'Dos' and 'Don’ts' but provides a framework for social housing providers to consider how the HRA 1998 will affect them.

For a copy of the guidance, please click here.