Housing Insalubrity

Dernière mise à jour le 15 juin 2019

The concepts of salubrity and insalubrity (or security and insecurity) are not universal. Each country, however, that incorporates this concept in its legislation defines it differently.

It is possible, while still acknowledging the existence of different criteria, to identify four major factors contributing to insalubrity:

  • Insalubrity tied to building quality. In this category, one finds everything relating to buildings (fire norms, ventilation, drinkable water, building stability) that can present an immediate problem, as well as factors that cause medium or long-term problems, such as the use of construction materials that are a health risk (lead, materials containing formaldehyde, etc.).
  • Insalubrity tied to insecurity of occupancy. These factors are extrinsic to the building itself, referring to: the occupancy status of residents, duration of occupancy, legal proof of a right to occupancy, and so on. This insecurity may be temporary or long-term.
  • Insecurity tied to building usage. In this case, the idea is that it is not the building itself that is insalubrious, but rather the way in which it is occupied. Under this rubric, one can include all kinds of overpopulation, as well as tenant insalubrity, which refers to situations in which inhabitants do not know how to live safely in their dwellings (for instance, the fact that if it is never ventilated, mold will develop).
  • Environmental quality. A household does more than simply inhabit a dwelling. Its living conditions must also meet minimum standards of acceptability. These would not be satisfied, for instance, if it was located near a war area or an area where guerillas are active, near a garbage dump, if it lacked public roads and the ability to be mobile, or was far from basic services (schools, doctors, etc.).

This definition was inspired by the work on this topic done by the European program INTERREG IV.

File translated by Michael C. Behrent – Assistant Professor – Department of History – Appalachian State University – Boone, NC  28608