Although the French Constitution of 1958 does not proclaim such a right, Laurence Gay points out that the courts may consider "the possibility of any person of having (a) decent form of housing" as "an objective of constitutional value". But, while this norm gives a basis for public intervention aimed at building social housing or regulating the private housing market (for example, prohibiting the private landlord owner from freely terminating a lease), it does not give an individual applicant a legal right to claim housing.

This position is contrasted with the jurisprudence of the South African Constitutional Court, which is seen as coming closer to establishing an effective concept of a "right to housing". The limitations of the State's responsibilities in France are critically examined and it is noted that the division of competences between central and non-central state organs remains to be clarified.

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