BREAKTHROUGH DECISION: Czech Constitutional Court overturns part of law that allowed municipalities to declare "housing benefit-free zones"
The Czech Constitutional Court (Ústavní soud - ÚS) has overturned a controversial part of the law on aid to those in material distress that made it possible for local authorities to designate zones on their territory where housing benefits would not be disbursed, agreeing with the arguments presented by a group of 17 senators four years ago. The "housing benefit-free zones", according to the ÚS, violate the right to adequate housing and do not differentiate between those responsible for the problems ostensibly being addressed by such zones and those who are their "victims".
The finding will take effect once it is published in the Collection of Laws. Municipalities will now have to find another way to combat "socially undesirable phenomena", the previously permitted justification for declaring the zones.
The legislation that regulated the zones has been ruled unconstitutional. "The law does not allow for case-by-case differentiation between the actual originators of socially undesirable phenomena (associated with so-called benefit tourism), the concentration of which the regulation under review was meant to prevent, and other populations associated with the municipality who ended up in the position of being the victims of such phenomena," rapporteur Justice Jiří Zemánek said when announcing the finding.
Dozens of towns all over the Czech Republic have seen the zones as one way to prevent an influx of people who are dependent on welfare and who frequently live in rental housing where the amount of rent paid does not correspond to the quality of the housing; housing benefit monies end up enriching the landlords of such substandard apartment units or residential hotels. Non-governmental organizations have long criticized the practice of declaring such zones, pointing out that they do not solve problems, but just relocate them elsewhere.
The letter of the law termed such zones "areas with an increased incidence of socially undesirable phenomena". Local administrations have been able, according to the law's wording to date, to request that an authorized municipal authority issue "measures of a general nature" to establish such zones.
The law previously established that applicants would not be entitled to housing benefits if their place of residence was located in such a zone. The restrictions that are now ending had just applied to new tenants, not to persons who had previously signed rental contracts before the law took effect.
The group of senators argued that the legislation assaults human dignity, violates the principle of equality, contravenes the principles of freedom of movement and freedom of residency, interferes with freedom of enterprise, and has not fulfilled its declared purpose. Essentially, the law denied housing benefits to some people who otherwise fulfilled the terms of eligibility for them and who needed such assistance.
The ÚS also said in its finding that it comprehends how people feel who "get no support" when it comes to addressing the problems of socially excluded localities. However, the court says it is not possible to approach this issue at the expense of the perspective of social emancipation and social reconciliation within a municipality, according to the decision.
- Czech Constitutional Court agrees with politician who sued over nickname ridiculing him in the press
- Czech Constitutional Court: Human rights defender has to count on "frustrated" people sending her death threats
- Czech Constitutional Court finds lower instance was wrong not to consider Romani celebrity subjected to online hate an injured party
- Czech Constitutional Court rejects complaint about hateful election campaigns, but agrees they were unethical
- Czech Constitutional Court upholds requirement for supermarket chains to donate to food banks
- Czech Constitutional Court to review controversial local ordinance about sitting in public
- Czech Constitutional Court receives complaint about election campaign, proposals for "fertilization" of "gypsies" recur in local media discussion
- Czech Constitutional Court president: Ethnic and national self-centeredness and xenophobia are a threat to Europe
- Czech Constitutional Court rejects complaint from neo-Nazi convicted of 2012 arson
- Czech Constitutional Court: Complaint against decision to buy pig farm on Romani genocide site is inadmissable
- Czech city ignores Constitutional Court and refuses to abolish ordinance banning sitting outdoors
- Czech Constitutional Court receives complaint over buyout of pig farm on Romani genocide site
- Romani celebrity files complaint with Czech Constitutional Court over lower court rejection of his victimization by racist threats
- Czech senators want Constitutional Court to address housing benefit legislation
- Czech Constitutional Court decides local ordinances that ban sitting anywhere but on a bench are unconstitutional
- Czech Constitutional Court rejects complaint from municipality defending its 2006 eviction of Romani residents
- Czech court decides it was unconstitutional for family from Kosovo to be detained in Bělá-Jezová deportation facility
- Czech Constitutional Court upholds suspended sentence for Nazi symbol on vehicle
- Czech Constitutional Court rejects higher compensation for forcibly sterilized woman
- Czech Constitutional Court upholds sentencing for disability pension fraud
- Czech Constitutional Court says extension of custody for neo-Nazi leader violated her rights
- Complaint filed with Czech Constitutional Court over brutal police intervention in Krupka
- Czech Constitutional Court upholds fine for wearing clothing with the "88" code
- Czech Constitutional Court receives municipal complaint over 1 May march by extremists
- Czech Republic: Brno neighborhood to file constitutional complaint over ultra-right march
- Czech Constitutional Court refuses compensation to Romani woman sterilized against her will
- Constitutional Court rejects complaint from alleged neo-Nazi now in custody
- Hungarian court rules Romani children were discriminatorily institutionalized because of their origin and social status
- Czech Spolu (Together) coalition: Education is the path to better integration of Roma, "inadaptables" don't want to conform
- Doctor in Slovakia refuses treatment to Romani toddler because his mother was unvaccinated, he died shortly thereafter
- Fire in Czech town destroys building where bereaved relatives of Stanislav Tomáš, the Romani man who died in police custody in June, were living
- Romanian town must finally compensate some members of a forcibly evicted Romani community
- Vojtěch Lavička: Czech law on housing benefit-free zones was an attack on human dignity
- Czech President Zeman visits school with Romani pupils as 2021/2022 school year begins
- Czech mayors regret abolition of housing benefit-free zones, one alleges the move will "cause extremism"
- Czech Labor and Social Affairs Minister proposes "expropriating" residential hotels after housing benefit-free zones declared unconstitutional
- Romani Rose, chair of the Central Council of German Sinti and Roma, returns Hungarian honors to protest anti-LGBT law
- Czech town cancels commission for container housing as too costly - which local opposition politicians have argued all along
- Vojtěch Lavička: Ghettos in the Czech Republic are determined by poverty, nobody judicious believes they can disappear