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By J
20/08/2013

A broader view

I can’t speak for the other NL writers, but one of the things I sometimes struggle with is making sure that I see housing law in its full context, by which I (think I) mean, making sure that I make myself aware of external sources of inspiration and ideas which might be of use in practice.

It’s with that in mind that I want to recommend a book. The Right to Housing is a monograph by Dr Jessie Hohmann (I think it was her Ph.D thesis). Part 1 is probably the most accessible (and useful for practicing lawyers) as it reviews how various international and domestic legal systems have provided for a right to housing. Interestingly (although not surprisingly), the ECHR does pretty badly in comparison to other jurisdictions; I want to do some more reading on the position under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights but, more practically, wonder if there is a way to use the jurisprudence from the Revised European Social Charter so as to bolster our arguments under the ECHR (something Dr Hohmann seems to think is possible, judging by her pg.50-54). I was also struck by how out-of-date my knowledge of South African case law is and am grateful to this book for remedying that. Finally, whilst I can’t see our county courts relishing this argument, the work of the Indian Supreme Court in extracting a right to housing from the right to life is both brilliant and exciting. Something to try on a wet afternoon in Bow CC methinks.

Parts 2 and 3 are, so far as I can see, original work and thoughts rather than a survey of existing law, Part 2 in particular examines what a right to a home might actually mean, i.e. what is a home? Whilst I can’t see myself using this in any cases I’m working on, that isn’t to say that it’s some ivory-tower whatnot. Again, whilst I cannot speak for the rest of the NL team, I’m conscious that I sometimes struggle to see the human element of our work, preferring to deal with the legal rules and concepts. The book is, I think, incredibly useful for making the reader think about what a home actually is.

At under £50, I think this is an absolute bargain and would urge anyone who really wants to think about housing law (in the widest possible sense) to buy this book.

J is a barrister. He considers housing law to be the single greatest kind of law known to humankind and finds it very odd that so few people share this view.

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