Private tenancy law is existentially affecting the daily lives of European citizens, as about one third of them depend on rental housing. That notwithstanding, it constitutes a nearly blank space in comparative and European law. This is due to its national character, its political nature and its embeddedness in widely diverging national housing policies, which ultimately reflect different welfare state models. At the same time, however, different parts of EU law and policy do affect tenancy law significantly, albeit indirectly. Thus, EU social policy against poverty and social exclusion extends to selected issues of housing policy. EU non-discrimination rules extend to the provision of housing, and several consumer law directives apply to tenancy contracts, too.
The “Tenancy Law and Housing Policy in a Multi-level Europe” (TENLAW) research Project provided the first large-scale comparative and European law survey of tenancy law. The Project work lasted from April 2012 until October 2015 and was coordinated by the Centre of European Law and Politics (ZERP) at the University of Bremen, Germany. All in all, 27 research institutions from all over Europe were involved and the results of this project were presented at a concluding conference in Budapest in September 2015.
The next conference in September 2016 will take a second look at the research results of the TENLAW project one year later with a focus on so called “alternative housing tenures” in Europe. Besides the “classical” tenancy contract between private individuals, many countries have established other forms of housing tenures which are classified in between classic market rental tenancies and home-ownership and are significantly relevant for European citizens, e.g. “socially-mediated” leases through institutions such as social housing agencies, cooperative housing, property leasing, right to housing in rem or ex contractu, building lease, family based housing or right-to-buy models. These can be compared to the more “classic” intermediate tenures, such as right of use, usufruct, right to build, emphytheusis, etc.
Alternative housing tenures have not been in the focus of comparative legal research so far. The aim of this conference is to give new impulses for housing research and policy by bringing together well-established experts from all over Europe. Additionally, in four workshops recent interesting developments in housing policy, such as the refugee crisis, energy efficiency modernization of buildings, the role of real estate agents and the dichotomy between deregulation of tenancy law, short term accomodation and tenant protection will be dealt with.