Rejection of lease offer for community accommodation should suspend eviction
The HFHR applied to the Minister of Transport, Construction and Maritime Economy, stressing the need to elaborate provisions of the Tenant Protection Act. Under current regulations, a debtor who raises objections as to the standard of housing offered to them by municipal authorities faces a risk of being evicted into the streets.
It happens where the debtor fails to enter a lease contract for a community flat offered to them within the time-limit set out by municipal authorities. In such a situation, a court enforcement officer evicts the debtor to a community flat offered by the local authorities, despite a failure to enter a lease, whereas municipal authorities argue that since the debtor rejected the request to sign a lease, they are not compelled any more to provide them with such accommodation.
Responding to the Foundation’s statement, the Minister of Transport, Construction and Maritime Economy (MTCME) took a position saying that a tenant has the right to decline a municipal authorities’ offer of community accommodation without the risk of eviction under art. 14(6) of the Tenant Protection Act, provided the said premises do not comply with the standards set forth in the Act. The Minister further contended that having accepted such an offer a tenant shall not waive the right to apply to municipal authorities for the provision of an accommodation meeting community housing requirements. The Ministry warns, however, that if the offered premises do not comply with the standards of community housing, a tenant should address the court to confirm their entitlement to community housing. If such a confirmation is given, a court enforcement officer will not be able to enforce the eviction order. According to the MTCME, the court enforcement officer is in no position to suspend eviction and should execute the same.
Time-limits for accepting a lease offer for given accommodation, as set forth by municipal authorities, have to be determined in consideration of the interests of not only offerees but also those who are still waiting for such offer to be made to them. The Minister deems a seven-day period to be sufficient.
The Ministry is of the opinion that problems occurring in the course of execution of eviction orders are more an issue of improper practices of municipal authorities related to the provision of community housing than a problem resulting from a poorly constructed law. Municipal authorities have limited capacities to acquire new housing units, according to the MTCME. In practice, it leads to a situation where they offer premises inconsistent with standards of community housing to avoid paying high compensation to tenants entitled to state-funded accommodation, whom they are not able to provide with appropriate housing.
For that reason the Ministry wants to introduce a community lease of housing units. It entails removing the notion of “community housing”. The community lease regime will enable municipal authorities to rent or sublease any premises. This measure is meant to alleviate the shortage of community flats.