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Czech Republic: Romani tenants at risk of eviction got their leases extended

31.12.2016 20:33
Cejl Street in Brno is part of a neighborhood nicknamed the
Cejl Street in Brno is part of a neighborhood nicknamed the "Brno Bronx". (Photo: František Kostlán)

The mass eviction of tenants from seven apartment buildings in the Cejl Street area of Brno, which more than 110 families were in danger of at the end of this year, has been postponed. The owner of the properties, the Fidurock Brno company, has extended the tenants' leases and begun to negotiate payment plans with rent defaulters, the Czech daily Mladá fronta DNES reported yesterday.

In the buldings on Bratislavská, Francouzská, Stará and Vlhká Streets, people have been offered contracts until the end of June 2017 by representatives of the company. Vladimír Loukota, secretary of the firm, assured the tenants by e-mail that none of them would be evicted onto the street this winter:

"I do not intend to comment on the rumors of evictions by 2 January 2017 or any other deadline. This is unbelievable. First there were supposed to be 500 people on the street by Christmas. Nobody is on the street. Now the rumor is that it will be by 2 January. Nobody will not be on the street," his message read.

Loukota did not specify what will happen after 30 June 2017. He claims the company bought the real estate in order to renovate it. 

What will happen with the properties next is only now being assessed. "Certainly this is an improvement," Miriam Kanioková of the "We Want to Live Indoors" intiative, which is in contact with the tenants, told Mladá fronta DNES.

Kanioková believes the people have now been given a chance to address their housing situations within the next half year. "However, we do not have any security as to whether this will apply to all of the tenants and what will happen when these contracts expire," she said.

Cejl residents can't afford market rent, waiting lists for municipal apartments overflow

According to one tenant from Cejl, the campaign that was unleashed about the leases aided the negotiations. "Before that they were obfuscating. Now they are behaving decently toward us. They even left a preliminary lease with me here so I could study it with a lawyer," the tenant told Mladá fronta DNES.

Brno City Hall is also negotiating with the Fidurock company and doing its best to find a solution so families do not end up on the street. According to Matěj Hollan (Žít Brno), a Brno assembly member and Vice-Mayor, the market for commercial leases of apartments is almost completely closed to anybody living on welfare in Brno.

"The city's apartment stock is burdened by a large number of applicants and they have had to create waiting lists with long wait times," Hollan said, adding that Brno is currently planning a change to the rules for leasing properties it owns. "We want to simplify the situations of single [divorcing] mothers so they can lease apartments even before their court proceedings have taken place, as well as during the proceedings, and even before their property settlements are reached."

Hollan said neither the current nor the future city rules will be able to address a situation in which a tenant has a fixed-term lease that expires. The evictions from seven buildings in the Cejl area would have endangered more than 110 families with minor children in their households.

The "We Want to Live Indoors" intiative convened a protest march on Tuesday, 6 December, during which those participating expressed their support for the endangered families and also warned that housing speculators were engaged in unfair practices. Jana Ustohalová had warned of the possible evictions at the beginning of November in the South Moravian edition of Mladá fronta DNES.

jal, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Brno, Cejl, Housing, Poverty



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