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Czech town decides to repurchase privatized housing

Přerov, 6.11.2012 22:18, (ROMEA)
Škodova street in Přerov, photo from iDNES.cz
Škodova street in Přerov, photo from iDNES.cz

The Přerov town hall wants to repurchase some of the buildings on Škodova street which it sold to a private investor five years ago. The landlord in the locality has not met the terms of the original purchase agreement, in which he promised to transform the Romani-occupied ghetto into a modern quarter. Town councilors also approved a motion to levy sanctions of CZK 500 000 against the investor and pledged to take care of the Romani people who continue to live in the half-demolished buildings. However, only tenants who have no outstanding debts with the town will be awarded leases for substitute apartments.

The town sold an apartment complex on Škodova street for CZK 1.5 million in 2007 to the Immofin firm, which later changed its name to Opera Bohemia. In the purchase agreement, the investor pledged to building multifunctional buildings on the site of the ghetto, but today some of the half-demolished buildings still remain on the site along with their original occupants. Construction was to have begun by mid-September of this year.

"We have no choice but to withdraw from the contract, take legal steps, and fine the investor. This will probably end up as a legal battle," Deputy Mayor Michal Zácha (Civic Democrats - ODS) said.

The vote to withdraw from the contract was almost unanimous, but it means significant complications for the town. A motion to have the owner declared insolvent has been filed. Another firm, Remedies, loaned the owner CZK 7 million to demolish the properties and has now filed a lien against them.

"We are calling on the owners to sign off on a settlement. There is a high probability they will refuse. We will file a lawsuit and it will be resolved by the courts. It's not possible for us to sell the locality and then have to buy it back half-demolished and in a desolate state for three times the sales price. We will fight to have it returned to our ownership gratis," Zácha said.

Town councilors held a stormy discussion about the fate of the buildings' occupants. There are 10 Romani families still living in the half-demolished buildings on Škodova street, estimated at anywhere between 50 and 100 people total. The town leadership has found apartments for them on Kojetínská and Husova streets, but many of them owe the town back rent or back payments for garbage services, in amounts ranging from CZK 1 000 to CZK 275 000. "The town is to blame for this situation and cannot get rid of its responsibility for it," said town councilor Helena Netopilová ("Together for Přerov").

The town council decided that only people who owe no money or who have paid off their debts will be awarded the leases on other municipally-owned properties. Four of the 10 families qualify. "We might still be able to resolve the situations of an additional three families if they are willing," Zácha said.

Substitute housing could be found for the Romani residents by the end of this year. The town hall is counting on investing a total of CZK 150 000 into some of the substitute apartments under consideration, as they still lack some fixtures.

Czech Press Agency, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Aktuality, Přerov, Ubytování, Czech republic, Housing



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