Working paper Open Access

Assessing Housing Rights in the Selected EU Countries

Aidukaitė, Jolanta; Ubarevičienė, Rūta

The study aims to explore the state of the housing rights across the European Union (EU) countries and the instruments through which the EU supports housing as a social right. The sub-task, then, is to evaluate the state of the housing rights in selected EU countries, representing typical welfare state models and housing policy traditions: Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Lithuania, and Poland.

The results provide more insight into the current state of housing rights in the European countries and inform how this state has changed in recent decades. The results show that, in general, housing policy decisions and outcomes have shifted towards greater convergence in the EU Member States over the past decades. However, the overall trajectory of changes is not very positive: government expenditure on housing-related policies is declining, and the sector’s performance in ensuring housing availability, affordability and adequacy is not improving, and in some cases is even deteriorating. The analysis of the selected EU countries shows that the EU has a very few instruments to support housing rights. The right to housing is the responsibility of national states and is usually guaranteed at local/municipal level.

Although European countries are becoming increasingly similar in terms of various housing indicators, typical housing policy regimes remain. For example, countries with a larger rental sector (private and/or public) have better rates of availability, affordability, and adequacy. Thus, countries which belong to social democratic or conservative-corporatist welfare state and housing policy regimes are in a better position than the Central and Eastern European and Mediterranean countries.

Overall, our study shows that to increase housing rights and ensure better housing availability, affordability and adequacy, the public/social housing sector should be expanded. Tenant’s involvement in the management of the social housing sector is crucial to protect the sector from the state (attempts to privatize and stigmatize) and the market (rising prices).

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