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October 22, 2018
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Czech Social Democrats revoke membership of one "trafficker in poverty" while ignoring another

17.6.2018 8:35
The entrance to the residential hotel on Zelená Street in the Czech town of Děčín (winter 2016). (PHOTO:  Konexe Archive)
The entrance to the residential hotel on Zelená Street in the Czech town of Děčín (winter 2016). (PHOTO: Konexe Archive)

The Czech Social Democratic Party (ČSSD) has revoked the membership of Petr Trabalka, who owns a problematic building inhabited by impoverished tenants in the town of Děčín. Party member Marcel Běhounek, an assembly member for the Severní Terasa Municipal Department of Ústí nad Labem, is also allegedly a slumlord in that same part of the country - but has not been asked to give up his party membership.

Děčín has designated Trabalka's real estate on Zelená Street as being subjected to "measures of a general nature", which means that any new arrivals to the property will not be entitled to draw housing benefits for their tenancy there. The building's renters have previously complained of bug infestations.

"That building, where apartments are rented to socially vulnerable people and paid for by the state, is in an absolutely horrible state of repair. That is embarrassing to us and no repairs have been undertaken," explained Czech MP Jaroslav Foldyna, the chair of the party cell in Děčín, when asked why Trabalka has been excluded.

Běhounek, on the other hand, is the party's front-runner for the October elections. The daily Mladá fronta DNES has previously reported that his firms own two apartment buildings in the quarters of Krásné Březno and Střekov in Ústí nad Labem.

The building in Střekov has been assessed by City Hall as problematic and is also being subjected to "measures of a general nature". From the cadastral records, moreover, it can be discovered that Běhounek's company, Severočeská realitní, also owns apartment units at the problematic Mojžíř housing estate.

That estate is also part of a locality where new arrivals will no longer be entitled to housing benefits. A tenant in an apartment owned by Běhounek in Krásné Březno told Mladá fronta DNES that she pays CZK 9 100 [EUR 350] in rent and CZK 1 500 [EUR 60] for electricity per month to live in a two-room unit.

Regular commercial rents in that locality customarily run between CZK 5 500 and CZK 6 000 per month, inclusive of energy costs. Běhounek rejects the comparison with Trabalka.

"I believe there is a difference between owning apartments and owning a residential hotel," Běhounek told the Czech News Agency, alleging that in the buildings owned by his firms, the standard open-ended rental contracts involve customary rents. "It is not the case that there is big turnover [in my properties]. There are also not apartments where six people live in one room [as they do in residential hotels]."

ČTK, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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