Head of household Raoufa, 62 years old, enjoys the sun outside of her home in Irbid Jordan. She has been living in this rent free house for  7 months now, as she is a beneficiary of Norwegian Refugee Council's Urban Shelter Programme.  To respond to growing shelter needs, NRC is putting new housing units onto the market through an innovative shelter programme which provides tangible support to Jordanian host communities while meeting the immediate shelter needs of vulnerable Syrian refugees.  Photo by: Alisa Reznick, March 2015
Read caption Photo: NRC/Alisa Reznick

Housing, land and property (HLP) rights

Published 21. Jan 2016|Edited 19. Feb 2016
We defend the right to a safe home and freedom from forced evictions.

Displaced persons face particular difficulties in housing, land and property (HLP) rights. Many have lost their homes and were forced to flee. Finding shelter in displacement can be one of the toughest challenges. When they return after conflict ends, they may find their homes destroyed or occupied by others.

Our HLP work makes up the largest component of our information, counselling and legal assistance (ICLA) services. Our experts work with a range of justice mechanisms – traditional, religious and statutory – to help solve disputes over HLP. We always provide services free of charge.

NRC co-chairs the Housing Land and Property Area of Responsibility under the Global Protection Cluster.

What are HLP rights?

Drawn from international humanitarian and human rights law, HLP rights entitle displaced people to a safe home, free from eviction. HLP rights are an essential stepping stone for displaced people to rebuild their lives.

Disputes over land tenure are often at the centre of conflict. When conflict ends, disputes over occupied property are a continued source of instability. They often undermine long-lasting solutions for returning populations, and may threaten fragile peace agreements.

Women’s HLP rights

Even before conflict, women are disadvantaged when it comes to HLP. Land ownership remains largely restricted to men, by both tradition and law.

Conflict makes these inequalities worse and affects women in particular ways. Women's access to HLP is often through inheritance or marriage. But they are denied this by families and communities who follow traditions that limit women's rights.

When displaced widows return to their homes, they can be evicted by their families and even lose custody of their children. Women without secure HLP rights can face impossible choices between staying in an abusive relationship or leaving and becoming homeless.  

HLP can be the only economic assets displaced women have. Many are left with few real options but to challenge their families and communities to gain independent access to these assets. NRC prioritises supporting these women to claim their HLP rights. Read more about our work on HLP for women.

A leader in HLP training

For over five years, NRC’s HLP Training Course has taught tens of thousands of people about HLP rights worldwide. Each year, we train displaced people, humanitarian organisations, local organisations and governments about displaced people's rights.

We also have a course specifically on women’s HLP rights. Our HLP Training Manual is available in four languages and can be requested through our website.

Our designed tools and training materials on collaborative dispute resolution support our staff’s capacity to address and resolve a range of HLP issues affecting displaced people.

Reporting on HLP

With our position as a leading researcher in displaced people’s HLP rights, the humanitarian community uses our reports to highlight HLP issues that affect displaced people worldwide.

NRC and IFRC, as co-chairs of the Housing, Land and Property Area of Responsibility (AoR) under the Global Protection Cluster, have launched a new joint report on The Importance of Addressing Housing, Land and Property (HLP) Challenges in Humanitarian ResponseThe report highlights eight reasons why HLP issues need to be addressed from the onset of a humanitarian response.