Towards a common standard of protection of the right to housing in Europe through the charter of fundamental rights

AuthorPadraic Kenna,Héctor Simón‐Moreno
Published date01 November 2019
Date01 November 2019
Towards a common standard of protection of the
right to housing in Europe through the charter of
fundamental rights
Padraic Kenna
| Héctor Simón-Moreno
The trend towards the financialisation of housing since the 1980s and the global financial crisis
exposed a dramatic lacuna in the legal protection of the right to housing. Yet, the right to housing
features not only in national and international human rights instruments, but also in the EU Charter
of Fundamental Rights. Charter rights are increasingly finding expression in the case law of the Court
of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). In particular, drawing on the Charter, the CJEU's interpre-
tation of EU consumer law is moving towards a recognition of housing rights as inherent compo-
nents of consumer protection. On the basis of such developments, this article examines whether
there is scope to extend this human rights approach to new areas namely, to the Mortgage Credit
Directive (2014) a major EU harmonising measure and to the work of EU institutions now
responsible for banking supervision. The article concludes that, if guided by the Charter of Funda-
mental Rights, the case law of the CJEU and the practice of supranational banking supervision could
significantly enhance the protection of the right to housing, both at EU and Member State level.
One of the consequences of wider home ownership has been the penetration of property law into disputes on home
ownership, mortgage default and housing rights. This has occurred in tandem with State policies advancing
homeownership to promote political conservatism and asset-based welfare approaches.
Despite major social policy
developments linking access to housing with involuntary participation in an unregulated financial services industry,
*Respectively, Senior Lecturer, School of Law, National University of Ireland, Galway, and Assistant Professor of Civil Law, University Rovira i Virgili.
UNESCO Housing Chair. This work has been made possible thanks to the research stay at the Centre for Housing Law, Rights and Policy, National
University of Ireland, Galway, between 1 March and 31 August 2018, funded by the Spanish Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports in the framework of
the Programme José Castillejofor the Mobility of Young Scholars 2017.
See R. Ronald, The Ideology of Home Ownership: Homeowner Societies and the Role of Housing (Palgrave Macmillan, 2008), 29 and 81, and R. Rolnik, The
Right to Adequate Housing (United Nations General Assembly, 10 August 2012), 3 et seq. Available at:
Housing/A-67-286.pdf> (last accessed 18 November 2019). There are significant variations in the level of homeowners with or without mortgages
throughout Europe. At one extreme is the Netherlands, where 60% own their home with a mortgage, and at the other is Romania where 96% own their
home without having a mortgagesee European Mortgage Federation, Hypostat 2017: A Review of Europe's Mortgage and Housing Markets. Available at: (last accessed 18 November 2019).
Received: 29 September 2018 Revised: 7 October 2019 Accepted: 15 October 2019
DOI: 10.1111/eulj.12348
608 © 2019 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Eur Law J. 2019;

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