Evictions have a devastating impact on people’s wellbeing and society

What is an eviction?

An eviction is the involuntary loss of one’s home. We use a broad meaning of the concept of ‘home’.

A home can be formal housing or informal housing, and the type of tenure does not play a role in answering the question whether someone is evicted. As a result, someone can be evicted from, for example, a rental home, an owner-occupied home or a squatted building.

There are also many cases in which people (often vulnerable groups such as refugees, Roma or Travellers) are evicted from a piece of land that is not their own.

The EVICT project analyses all these types of evictions, and aims to see whether the international right to housing helps people that face an eviction.

How many evictions are there in the Europe and other parts of the world?

The exact number of evictions is unknown. In the Global South, evictions due to conflicts and urban development are omnipresent. In the Global North, evictions are on the rise due to social inequality, the financialisation and commodification of housing, as well as discrimination against minority groups and refugees.

In the United States, over 4.5 million renters in the United States experienced an eviction from 2012 to 2016.

In Europe, 700,000 people had to leave their home involuntarily within five years, and many more were at risk of losing their home. Spain faced, for example, over 500,000 repossessions during the financial crisis, because homeowners were unable to service their mortgage debts.

What does the right to housing mean?

The UN Special Rapporteur on adequate housing has characterised the right to housing as one of the most endangered rights. Still, the right has remained understudied and historically treated as a poor cousin to other human rights.

The exact meaning of the right to housing is still a matter of debate. The EVICT projects sees the right to housing as a network of interrelated housing rights constituting the right to housing.

The nodes of this network are, primarily: the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), the European Social Charter (ESC), the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), and the housing rights implied by European Union (consumer) law.

What does the EVICT project add to what we know about the right to housing?

The EVICT projects analyses the right to housing as a network of interrelated housing rights. Earlier research has primarily focused on one housing right and one sub-discipline of the law; as a result, similarities and differences between the various rights and areas of law have been understudied, leaving emerging and diverging trends unclear.

The EVICT project will scrutinise and compare data on the various elements of the network of international and European laws that constitute the right to housing. The project aims to explain if and why this right has any impact on national legal discourse and judicial decision-making in European jurisdictions. This will be achieved by collecting and analysing quantitative and qualitative data on eviction case law.

Explore the pillars of our research:

Publications on evictions and housing law

  • Sweeney, E., Bruijn, M., & Vols, M. (2023). Deconstructing the Eviction Protections Under the Revised European Social Charter: A Systematic Content Analysis of the Interplay Between the Right to Housing and the Right to Property. Human Rights Law Review, 23(4). https://doi.org/10.1093/hrlr/ngad022
  • Wind, R., Vols, M., & Roorda, B. (2023). The Child-specific Right to Adequate Housing in the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The International Journal of Children’s Rights, 31(2), 444-470. https://doi.org/10.1163/15718182-31020001
  • Vols, M. (2023). The Optional Protocol to the ICESCR, Homelessness and Moral Hazard: The Alternative Adequate Housing Requirement in the CESCR’s Jurisprudence – an Incentive Not to Pay for Housing? International Human Rights Law Review, 12(1), 1-25. https://doi.org/10.1163/22131035-12010001
  • Visser, I., Breedeveld, J. A., & Hasnaoui, Y. (2022). Different Models of Forbearance and Mortgage Enforcement Proceedings, European Journal of Comparative Law and Governance, 9(2), 152-186. https://doi.org/10.1163/22134514-bja10032
  • Vols, M. (2022). Het recht op huisvesting en de Nederlandse Grondwet: Een analyse van artikel 22 lid 2 Grondwet: het recht op voldoende woongelegenheid . NJCM Bulletin. Nederlands Tijdschrift voor de Mensenrechten, 47(2), 147-167. https://www.navigator.nl/document/id13fb9c271e164440b2a6b5045252bc2e?cpid=WKNL-LTR-Nav2&cip=hybrid
  • Smit, N., & Vols, M. (2022). Student housing in The Netherlands. In T. Vandromme, N. Carette, & D. Vermeir (Eds.), Student housing in Europe (Studies in housing law; Vol. 4). Eleven International Publishing.
  • Medvedeva, M., Dam, T., Wieling, M., & Vols, M. (2021). Automatically identifying eviction cases and outcomes within case law of Dutch Courts of First Instance. In E. Schweighofer (Ed.), Legal Knowledge and Information Systems (pp. 13-22). (Frontiers in Artificial Intelligence and Applications; Vol. 346). IOS Press. https://doi.org/10.3233/FAIA210312
  • Bruijn, L. M., & Vols, M. (2021). Onderzoek toepassing artikel 13b Opiumwet. NILG – Openbare orde, Veiligheid & Recht; Vol. 7. Boom Juridisch. https://www.boomdenhaag.nl/webshop/onderzoek-toepassing-artikel-13b-opiumwet.
  • Vols, M., & Dyah Kusumawati, E. (2020). The International Right to Housing, Evictions and the Obligation to Provide Alternative Accommodation. Asia Pacific Journal on Human Rights and the Law, 21(2), 237-269. https://doi.org/10.1163/15718158-21020003
  • Vols, M. (2020). Voortdurend Verhuizen: De Impact Van Het Kinderrechtenverdrag Op Huisuitzettingen In Het Privaat- En Bestuursrecht. NJCM Bulletin. Nederlands Tijdschrift voor de Mensenrechten, 45(1), 3-24.
  • Vols, M. (2019), European law and private evictions: property, proportionality and vulnerable people, European Review of Private Law, 29, pp. 719-752.
  • Bruijn, L. M., Vols, M., & Brouwer, J. G. (2018). Home closure as a weapon in the Dutch war on drugs: Does judicial review function as a safety net? International Journal of Drug Policy, 51, 137-147. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.drugpo.2017.08.003
  • Vols, M., & Fick, S. (2017). Using Eviction to Combat Housing-related Crime and Anti-social Behaviour in South Africa and the Netherlands. The South African Law Journal, 134(2), 327-360.
  • Van Tongeren, S., & Vols, M. (2017). The Right to Housing and the Right to a Second Chance: How Dutch Landlords and Local Authorities Facilitate and Frustrate the Successful Reintegration of Ex-Offenders. In M. Vols, & J. Sidoli (editors), People and Buildings: Comparative Housing Law (blz. 171-190). (Studies in housing law; Vol. 2). Eleven International Publishing.
  • Vols, M. (2017). Banning criminals and nuisance neighbours from housing: human rights proof? Exclusion and the Dutch Urban Areas Special Measures Bill. In J. Sidoli, M. Vols, & M. Kiehl (Eds.), Regulating the City: Contemporary Urban Housing Law (Vol. 1, pp. 127-143). (Studies in housing law; Vol. 1). Eleven International Publishing.
  • Fick, S., & Vols, M. (2016). Best protection against eviction? A Comparative Analysis of Protection against Evictions in the European Convention on Human Rights and the South African Constitution. European Journal of Comparative Law and Governance, 3(1), 40-69. https://doi.org/10.1163/22134514-00301002
  • Vols, M., Kiehl, M.F. & Sidoli del Ceno, J. (2015), Human rights and protection against eviction in anti-social behaviour cases in the Netherlands and Germany, European Journal of Comparative Law and Governance, 2, pp. 156-180.
  • Vols, M., Tassenaar, P. G., & Jacobs, J. P. A. M. (2015). Anti-social behaviour and European protection against eviction. International Journal of Law in the Built Environment, 7(2), 148-161.
  • Vols, M. (2015). Artikel 8 EVRM en de gedwongen ontruiming van de huurwoning vanwege overlast. WR, tijdschrift voor huurrecht, 2015(2), 55-62.
  • Vols, M., Kiehl, M., & Sidoli del Ceno, J. (2015). Human Rights and Protection against Eviction in Anti-social Behaviour Cases in the Netherlands and Germany. European Journal of Comparative Law and Governance, 2(2), 156-181. https://doi.org/10.1163/22134514-00202000