Evictions and Relocations

The right to adequate housing and shelter is fundamental to living in dignity and safety. Unsafe housing and insecure housing rights also have serious implications for physical and mental health.

Displaced populations’ right to housing is especially precarious as they access their housing by:

  • negotiating an agreement with a landowner,
  • a government or an institution designating an area for settlement, or
  • the informal occupation of a site or building.

Most of these arrangements are temporary at best, and landowners have significant power over occupants. Tenants have contractual obligations to landowners to regularly pay rent and utilities – and the most vulnerable are often faced with the impossible choice between paying for rent and paying for other necessities such as food or medical costs.

When landowners or governments decide to end an agreement with occupants or to reclaim land/buildings from informal occupants, a threat of eviction is triggered. Threats of eviction can vary widely depending on the relationship between the landowner and the occupant and the context in which they live. Threats of eviction can be written or verbal, based on legal reasons or be arbitrary, can be peaceful or violent. The process can be informal or can follow legally defined steps. The type of eviction threat and the reasons for it should thereby shape the way the response is designed.

These resources can help you design adequate responses – based on emerging global best practices. These resources will be updated periodically – please contact the HLP AOR Coordinator if you have any questions or new resources to contribute.