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Housing, Land, and Property Rights Toolkit

Key Materials
Thematic Areas

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What are HLP rights & Tenure Security?

Housing, Land and Property (HLP) encompass the rules, arrangements, practices, customs, and attitudes that enable individuals to inhabit and use the land, property and accommodation they live in. While laws play a significant role, HLP goes beyond legal frameworks. It includes the understanding and implementation of practices, customs and sentiments that centered around rights and access to land, property or resources. Therefore, it is important for humanitarian professionals implementing programs that require access and/or use of housing, land or property to proactively address HLP issues and integrate HLP solutions.

HLP rights comprise a set of laws (statutory and customary), standards, and principles that safeguard the human right to access adequate housing, free from the fear of displacement, encroachment, or arbitrary eviction. These rights also underpin the access to natural resources, food, education, healthcare, and other essential livelihood services. HLP rights extend beyond ownership as defined by statutory or customary laws, encompassing informal, public, private, and collective HLP assets.

Security of Tenure is enabled by the protections under HLP rights and refers to the level of certainty to which people will be able to stay on the land or in the house they occupy. An occupant with a high level of security of tenure has a recognized tenure arrangement that protects them from forced eviction, encroachment, harassment, arbitrary removal or rights, or other violations to the tenure arrangement. Security of tenure is critical for livelihoods as it is a key component for pursuing economic opportunities, school enrollment, accessing social services, sustainably managing natural resources, and establishing long-term connections within a community.

Why is addressing HLP and tenure security issues in Shelter programming important?

Prioritizing the resolution of housing, land, and property (HLP) issues at the onset is crucial for an effective response and for upholding community stability, safety, and well-being. Addressing HLP issues and supporting tenure security provides both immediate relief and helps achieve durable solutions that enable individuals and communities affected by crisis begin the path to recovery.

Securing HLP rights is foundational to key shelter and settlements responses, such as site planning, repair and rehabilitation efforts and rental support, all requiring the use of housing, land or property. HLP programming is also needed to effectively implement the Settlements Approach for responding to the increasingly complex humanitarian landscape characterized by urbanization, climate-related displacement and protracted conflict. This will require a comprehensive understanding of the HLP and tenure security issues in complex environments, and how to support access to adequate housing for different populations without increasing risk of disputes or secondary displacement.

Toolkit Overview


The HLP toolkit for Shelter and Settlements practitioners aims to provide humanitarian shelter practitioners with resources and tools for preventing, mitigating and responding to HLP and tenure security issues in various contexts and phases of shelter programming.  Beyond serving as a repository of resources, the HLP toolkit draws out the most relevant and usable information from each resource and tool and provides guidance on when and for whom these items are useful. The contexts and summaries provided will serve as a roadmap for the resources and tools provided.

The goal is to equip practitioners with a comprehensive set of resources and tools that can be easily accessed, quickly navigated and effectively utilized to support the integration HLP & tenure security responses in shelter programming.

Intended Audience

The intended audience is humanitarian shelter and settlements practitioners working in the field. However, as HLP and tenure security underpin all aspects of livelihoods, the tools and resources provided are relevant for humanitarian and development practitioners across sectors, particularly CCCM, WASH, Protection, and Health.


The toolkit revolves around six main thematic areas: Due Diligence, Advocacy, Climate Change, Urban Response, Eviction and Women’s HLP Rights. Within each thematic area, there are subcategories that focus on specific topics related to the broader theme. For example, Disability Inclusion and Dispute Resolution fall under Advocacy. Each subcategory offers a set resources and tools. The resources typically consist of comprehensive documents like guidance notes, reports, and case studies, while the tools consist of usable items that can be adapted to various contexts, such as checklists, guiding questions, and tracking templates.

Each resource and tool is accompanied by a context overview and summary. The context provides a brief overview of the setting, situation, or specific issue for which the resource or tool offers guidance. For instance, addressing HLP issues in informal urban settlements or strengthening women’s tenure security in post-conflict settings. This context helps readers quickly determine the relevance of the resource or tool to their specific needs.

The summaries highlight the key information within each resource or tool and indicate where the information can be found. Rather than summarizing the entire contents, the summaries serve as a roadmap, providing users with a clear guide to the most useful guidance contained in each resource or tool and its relevance to shelter and settlements actors.

The regional case studies section provides a set of HLP country profiles for quick and key information of the legal and procedural context relating to HLP within the target country. The country profiles are intended to inform programming and emergency shelter interventions and can be used to complement the thematic area guidance.

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