Why do families lack a registered address?
In Hungary, people residing in a home which is not in their ownership, have to prove during an address registration process that they use the dwelling rightfully. This proof can be produced in three ways: 1. they turn up at the district office with their landlord in person; 2. the landlord signs the address registration form or gives his/her permission electronically; 3. they prove their right to use the dwelling based on a contract which is issued as a private document or an authentic instrument representing conclusive evidence. This means, that if the tenant has a contract signed by two witnesses, thus a private document representing conclusive evidence, based on the legislation there is no need for a personal or written consent of the landlord to register the address.
Unfortunately, practice has shown that administrators working in district offices often act unlawfully, and request a supplementary consent of the landlord for the registration of the address even in such cases. Thus, they act against the law. This is important as we experience that landlords, irrespective of the fact whether a rental contract exists or not, do not give their consent to register the address of the rental dwelling as a residential address.
There can be two reasons for the behaviour of the landlords: on the one hand they are afraid to draw the attention of the tax authority (private landlords generally avoid paying taxes after the income from their rentals), and on the other hand, they wrongly assume that tenants would get additional rights based on being registered in the property (for example it would be more difficult to evict them). The law is explicit in stating that a registered address does not create any additional legal effects in relation to a property. It is for the same reason that landlords are not willing to issue a valid – written – rental contract, and hence, it is not even an option for the tenant to register the address without the consent of the landlord.
What services are unavailable for families and children due to the lack of a registered address?
Health services: in case of minor Hungarian citizens, without a valid registered address despite having a valid social security number (TAJ), their legal status is not settled. Hence, they can use publicly funded services only at a “red light”.
Parents can apply for family allowance (családi pótlék) and maternity benefits (GYES and GYET) for their children only if they have a valid address, because the designation of an address is an mandatory element of the application form for the benefit.
The application form for the regular child protection benefit (rendszeres gyermekvédelmi kedvezmény) contains the same obligatory section, with the additional requirement of calculating the per person monthly salary of the family looking after the child. According to the law regulating the application process, the family looking after the child is defined based on close relatives living together in the same household (living in the same dwelling, with registered address or registered place of residence in the same dwelling). Thus, it is not only the applicant who has to have a registered address, but all family members taken into account for calculating the income level must have a valid address too.
Enrollment to kindergarten and school is also tied to a registered address. In case of kindergartens, children have to primarily enrol into a kindergarten belonging to the district where the child or his/her parent lives or the parent(s) work(s). With regard to primary schools, the school is obliged to enrol the child if he/she habitually lives in the area. In these cases, a valid registered address proves the habitual residence of the child.
What could be the solution?
According to the Streetlawyer Association, this situation violates the rights of the child which are enshrined in international treaties, the Fundamental Law, and the Act on Child Protection. Therefore we turned to the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights with the following requests:
In our motion we suggest to exclude the registered address of the applicant as a compulsory section in the application forms for the above-mentioned benefits and services or alternatively, the law should provide for the option of issuing a declaration about one’s own address or place of residence if the person does not possess a registered address. This solution could help families who do not have a registered address because their landlords did not sign a contract with them.
In our motion we also request the Fundamental Rights Commissioner to issue a recommendation to the supervisory body of the district offices, suggesting them to use an application form during the address registration process which makes it clear that there is no need to present a supplementary consent of the landlord for the address registration process if the applicant has a contract in the form of a private or public document representing conclusive evidence.
How can you join our campaign?
Beyond the motion to the Fundamental Rights Commissioner, we issued an open letter together with The City is for All to the Minister for Human Capacities (Zoltán Balog) urging the Minister to find a solution. If you wish to support the case of families without a registered address, sign our petition.
Fordítás/Translation: Teller Nóra, önkéntes/volunteer