Opinions

Are you with us? The campaign for housing rights

Written by: Lisa Borthwick, Senior Campaigns and Policy Officer, Shelter Scotland

Published: 20/11/2019

Photo of 3 people standing in front of a building. Quoted text reads

Lisa explains why action is needed to recognise, protect and enhance people's housing rights in Scotland.

Everyone knows – and broadly agrees – that a warm, safe, affordable home is vital to everyone. And in Scotland, we have some of the most progressive housing legislation in the world which is something to be both celebrated and protected.

But while housing is a human right, there is a gap between this technical right and what is protected under domestic law in Scotland. Too often the existing laws and housing rights remain beyond the reach of too many. People don’t know what their rights are and some public bodies, struggling under the weight of cuts in services and increases in demand, are unable to enforce them. For thousands, a safe, secure and affordable home is still out of reach.

And this lack of rights impacts families and individuals in many different ways, up and down the country.

There are currently 158,439 households waiting for a council house and for many that wait will be years. More acutely last year, 29,894 households were made homeless – the equivalent of one every 18 minutes, including 14,043 children. 10,989 households are currently in temporary accommodation, on average spending 6 months there. Councils broke the law and denied people their right to temporary accommodation over 3,000 times; many people were forced to sofa surf or sleep on the streets as a result and rough sleeping in Scotland is rising. Hundreds of thousands of families struggle with impossible decisions about how to pay their rent with one million households in poverty after they’ve paid their rent or mortgage.

We also know that for many people, they are not in a home that meets their needs – whether that be because it is unaffordable, because it is physically inaccessible, because they’re waiting for adaptations, or because they are not close enough to their support network.

We are in the grip of a housing emergency and more must be done to recognise, protect and enhance people’s housing rights.

And that is why Shelter Scotland is asking people across Scotland to back our Are you with us? campaign (this link will take you away from our website).

We believe that citizens need better protection to secure their right to not just a house, but a safe, secure and affordable home.

The Scottish Parliament is currently considering a new Act of the Scottish Parliament on human rights. This creates a major opportunity to underpin Scotland’s tangled web of housing rights by including the right to a home in human rights legislation for the first time, and we think this is one of the steps needed to ensure that everyone has a good home.

Shelter Scotland is campaigning for a Scotland where:

  • New laws enhance and protect the right to a safe, secure and affordable homes for all.
  • Everyone knows and can defend their housing rights.
  • Rights are upheld and laws cannot be routinely broken.

What can you do?

1. Sign the petition today (this link will take you away from our website) to make housing rights, human rights
2. Adopt the Charter for Change: Get your employer or organisation to adopt the Charter for Change and commit to make the changes Scotland needs to ensure there’s a safe, secure and affordable home for everyone.
3. Become a housing rights defender: Use your voice to raise awareness about the housing emergency – and the solutions.
4. Consider if any individuals you’re working with might be in need of more general housing advice: advice is available online (this link will take you away from our website) or via our free helpline on 0808 800 4444 for urgent cases. Alternatively we have a service offering free advice to frontline support and advice staff and volunteers throughout Scotland available on 0344 515 1310.

We thought you might also like: