Czech Republic: Realtor tells tenants they'd better not be on welfare
The Czech Republic's biggest private provider of rental accommodations, the Residomo company (which until last February operated under the name RPG Byty_ has stopped extending the rental contracts for some of its tenants. In the Ostrava-Poruba neighborhood this especially concerns their buildings on Dělnická and Skautská streets.
"This is about approximately 18 to 20 families whom I know of at this moment. They are all Romani. The overall number, however, is probably much higher," Dušan Červeňák, vice-chair of the Romipen group in Ostrava, told news server Romea.cz.
The group says it is locally collaborating with the Ostrava-Poruba Municipal Department to run what it calls "training apartments" and that it has long focused on aiding families in complex social situations, including negotiating what is now happening with these properties at meetings with municipal representatives. "The Residomo company, according to our information, has said it does not intend to evict tenants en masse and that each family whose contract is ending will be dealt with individually. That means they will be checking out each lease holder to see whether he or she has paid rent correctly, whether he or she is under a collections proceedings, or in debt, or whether there have been complaints filed against the family in association with violating the building rules," he said.
However, among the families whose leases the company has not extended, according to the Romipen vice-chair, are also families who have no such problems and who have been paying their rent correctly all along. "Those people have lived there for many years, some of the families are in the fifth generation there. They work normally, they fulfill their responsibilities, but despite that some of them suddenly will not have their contracts extended and they have not learned why," Červeňák said.
After the most recent meeting with Residomo, however, the municipality promised the families aid should their rental contracts not be extended. "We were assured that this was not intentional eviction. The aim of the company decidedly is not to worsen the tenants' social situations. If a rental relationship ends, each tenant will get that information at least three months in advance," the Ostrava-Poruba Municipal Department says in its official press release on the issue, adding that it it is prepared to actively collaborate with the evictees to individually address the situations of tenants who feel they are in danger of losing their housing.
"I gave the municipality background information about the families whose leases were not extended and together with the chair of our association, Ernest Bandy, we pointed out to them which families have no problems at all. The effort to aid those people has been apparent. In one case the extension of the rental contract has already been promised and the others have great hopes of their contracts being extended also. We thank the Municipal Department for this and we hope our collaboration will continue," Červeňák told news server Romea.cz, adding that in other cities people do not have this kind of luck.
The policy of checking tenants out and ending their leases has been applied by Residomo in other localities as well. In June, for example, their director Jan Rafaj signed a collaboration agreement with the Mayor of Karviná.
"That memorandum makes it possible for us to audit and identify tenants newly renting apartments from Residomo. It is not desirable for the units owned by the biggest real estate company in Karviná to be occupied by people who do not work, who are problematic, or who are dependent on welfare. We are focusing on the current problematic tenants and we will make sure Residomo does not extend their leases," Mayor Jan Wolf said this summer.
Residomo has long collaborated with that city, for example, on its zero tolerance program. That cooperation falls under a project called "A Safe Karviná", which is also associated with the designation of zones where housing benefits will not be disbursed.
"We will not allow people to live in our apartments who cause problems. We will evict inadaptables," Residomo director Rafaj told the daily Karvinský deník.
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