Water cut to Czech residential hotel, town must step in
Dozens of people from the Předlice quarter of Ústí nad Labem are without supplies of potable water. Iveta Kardianová, spokesperson for North Bohemian Water Supply and Sewerage (Severočeské vodovody a kanalizace - SČVK) says the building, a residential hotel, has been disconnected over hundreds of thousands of crowns in unpaid bills.
There are almost 50 people living in the residential hotel, including young children. They claim to have been paying the landlord for utilities.
"The rent here starts at CZK 8 000 a month and more. We have all paid," one tenant said.
Kardianová says SČVK's contract is with the owners of the building, who have long not paid their bills. "We have been addressing this problem for more than a year. We have repeatedly reminded the owners of their unpaid bills. We also offered them a payment plan, but they didn't keep up with it. That's why we have stopped supplying the water," she explained.
Today is the fifth day without water in the residential hotel. The centrally-located municipal department has arranged a cistern for the residents.
"We are paying for this cistern from our budget," the mayor of the municipal department, Jan Tvrdík (Civic Democrats - ODS) said. Contracting directly with the tenants is reportedly not an option.
"Unfortunately that's not possible. The landlords also own the internal water distribution system. That's why it's not possible to contract directly with the tenants," Kardianová said.
Social workers are working with the families to monitor the conditions in which they live. Some tenants have already left the residential hotel, others are seeking new housing.
"We want to get out of here as quickly as possible. The owner always turns up just for the rent, he has never taken an interest in the building otherwise," one tenant said.
Both the local authority and nonprofit organizations are seeking other housing for the tenants. "We are doing our best to resolve the situation so people don't have to remain there," Tvrdík said.
The Czech News Agency reports that according to the real estate registry, landlords Mr and Mrs Joni are facing collections proceedings. The building has been seized and a warrant has been issued for its sale.
This is not the first time the couple has grappled with problems around the residential hotel. They began running the facility in 2007 without approval.
Officials did not issue use permits for it until 2009. Mr Joni could have been fined up to half a million crowns at that time, but the Building Works Authority ultimately did not sanction him.
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