Shelter and accommodation, right to
On this page you will find legal guarantees and other regulations from the Swiss Federal Constitution, the European and international human rights treaties and further documents under international law. This list is not intended to be exhaustive, as regulations from other regional treaties and topically similar safeguarding provisions of international humanitarian law are not included.
Federal Constitution of the Swiss Confederation of 18 April 1999
(English is not an official language of the Swiss Confederation. This translation is provided for information purposes only and has no legal force.)
The social rights of the Swiss Federal Constitution are - apart from the right to assistance when in distress, the right to primary school education and freedom of commerce - not binding and justiciable. Most of the social rights enshrined in international covenants are reduced to mere pronouncements of social goals. With regard to the right to shelter, article 41 states:
Article 41: (1) The Confederation and the Cantons shall, as a complement to personal responsibility and private initiative, endeavour to ensure that: [...]
(1.e) anyone seeking accommodation for themselves and their family can find suitable accommodation on reasonable terms; [...]
(2) The Confederation and Cantons shall endeavour to ensure that everyone is protected against the economic consequences of old-age, invalidity, illness, accident, unemployment, maternity, being orphaned and being widowed.
(3) They shall endeavour to achieve these social objectives within the scope of their constitutional powers and the resources available to them.
(4) No direct right to state benefits may be established on the basis of these social objectives.
European Social Charter (revised)
Article 31 (The right to housing): With a view to ensuring the effective exercise of the right to housing, the Parties undertake to take measures designed:
(1) to promote access to housing of an adequate standard;
(2) to prevent and reduce homelessness with a view to its gradual elimination;
(3) to make the price of housing accessible to those without adequate resources.
(This Charter has not been ratified in Switzerland.)
Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Article 25: (1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control. [...]
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
Article 11: (1) The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living for himself and his family, including adequate food, clothing and housing, and to the continuous improvement of living conditions. The States Parties will take appropriate steps to ensure the realization of this right, recognizing to this effect the essential importance of international co-operation based on free consent. [...]
International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination
Article 5: In compliance with the fundamental obligations laid down in article 2 of this Convention, States Parties undertake to prohibit and to eliminate racial discrimination in all its forms and to guarantee the right of everyone, without distinction as to race, colour, or national or ethnic origin, to equality before the law, notably in the enjoyment of the following rights: [...]
(e) Economic, social and cultural rights, in particular: [...]
(e.iii) The right to housing;
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women
Article 14: (1) [...]
(2) States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in rural areas in order to ensure, on a basis of equality of men and women, that they participate in and benefit from rural development and, in particular, shall ensure to such women the right: [...]
(2.h) To enjoy adequate living conditions, particularly in relation to housing, sanitation, electricity and water supply, transport and communications.
Convention on the Rights of the Child
Article 27: (1) States Parties recognize the right of every child to a standard of living adequate for the child's physical, mental, spiritual, moral and social development.
(2) The parent(s) or others responsible for the child have the primary responsibility to secure, within their abilities and financial capacities, the conditions of living necessary for the child's development.
(3) States Parties, in accordance with national conditions and within their means, shall take appropriate measures to assist parents and others responsible for the child to implement this right and shall in case of need provide material assistance and support programmes, particularly with regard to nutrition, clothing and housing.
(4) States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to secure the recovery of maintenance for the child from the parents or other persons having financial responsibility for the child, both within the State Party and from abroad. In particular, where the person having financial responsibility for the child lives in a State different from that of the child, States Parties shall promote the accession to international agreements or the conclusion of such agreements, as well as the making of other appropriate arrangements.
International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families
Article 43: (1) Migrant workers shall enjoy equality of treatment with nationals of the State of employment in relation to: [...]
(1.d) Access to housing, including social housing schemes, and protection against exploitation in respect of rents; [...]
(3) States of employment shall not prevent an employer of migrant workers from establishing housing or social or cultural facilities for them. Subject to article 70 of the present Convention, a State of employment may make the establishment of such facilities subject to the requirements generally applied in that State concerning their installation.
(This Convention has not been ratified by Switzerland.)
Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
Article 28 (Adequate standard of living and social protection): (1) States Parties recognize the right of persons with disabilities to an adequate standard of living for themselves and their families, including adequate food, clothing and housing, and to the continuous improvement of living conditions, and shall take appropriate steps to safeguard and promote the realization of this right without discrimination on the basis of disability.
(2) States Parties recognize the right of persons with disabilities to social protection and to the enjoyment of that right without discrimination on the basis of disability, and shall take appropriate steps to safeguard and promote the realization of this right, including measures:
(a) To ensure equal access by persons with disabilities to clean water services, and to ensure access to appropriate and affordable services, devices and other assistance for disability-related needs; [...]
(d) To ensure access by persons with disabilities to public housing programmes; [...]
(This Convention has not been ratified by Switzerland.)
- Federal Constitution of the Swiss Confederation of 18 April 1999
- European Social Charter (revised)
- Universal Declaration of Human Rights
- International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
- International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination
- Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women
- Convention on the Rights of the Child
- International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families
- Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities