Czech legislation to curb housing benefit abuses by residential hotel landlords
The disbursal of housing benefits to tenants of residential hotels is evidently about to be limited. According to an amendment to the law on aid to those in material distress drafted by the Government, the state would calculate such benefits provided directly to the operators of residential hotels based on the space being rented, not on the number of people living in a unit.
Rent in such facilities should not exceed usual local rents. The Czech lower house approved the amendment today.
The amendment also establishes the requirements to be met by accommodation receiving such benefits and specifies that recreational facilities will be able to receive such benefits in future. The amendment, which is supposed to prevent residential hotel operators from overcharging the state for the costs of the accommodation they provide, will now be reviewed by the Senate.
The Senate will probably approve the amendment, as it has proposed similar legislation itself. The lower house included a proposal in its draft from the chair of the ODS (Civic Democrats) MPs, Zbyněk Stanjura, who, at the instigation of municipalities in the Moravian-Silesian Region, recommended that the benefits be disbursed to residential hotel operators only with the agreement of the municipality in which a facility is located.
The lower house rejected a proposal by Czech MP Adolf Beznoska (ODS), according to which the maximum amount of housing benefit paid to residential hotel operators would not have exceeded CZK 1 000 per bed. The Government wants to stop the disbursal of disproportionate housing benefits to the owners of accommodation not in compliance with codes, Czech Social Affairs Minister Michaela Marksová (Czech Social Democrats - ČSSD) said.
Residential hotels will have to uphold certain standards once the law passes. The evaluation of tenants' material distress will involved stricter criteria for deciding whether to award benefits and the proceedings for such benefits will be simplified.
Time limits for the provision of such benefits will also no longer exist. The number of people in whose name housing benefits are disbursed and the amount of money disbursed for those purposes has risen in recent years.
In 2011 there were 24 400 recipients of housing benefits and the state paid out CZK 850 million. Last year there were 65 100 recipients and the amount of money disbursed rose to CZK 2.8 billion.
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