Housing is a fundamental right, and our goal is to make it enforceable. To this end, it is essential that the state (municipality) introduces mandatory procedural guarantees for itself, which make housing secure in the case of its own rental housing. At its meeting on Wednesday, the Metropolitan Municipality took an important step in this direction by amending its decree on tightening evictions from municipal rental housing. Compared to the first version, we see that almost all the amendments proposed by the Streetlawyer have been accepted.
According to the Municipality, the primary purpose of the amendment is to give effect to public policy objectives related to the prevention of indebtedness and homelessness, as well as the ban on evictions without minimum acceptable placement, even before the planned comprehensive revision of the Tenancy Decree (and the end of the eviction moratorium).
Procedural guarantees for the protection of tenants
The amendment to the decree introduces important restrictions and procedural rules for the Metropolitan Municipality. For example, it sets or limits time limits for municipal proceedings and clarifies the reasons for terminating a lease. These provisions can make the capital’s housing system more transparent and more predictable for tenants.
We welcome the ban on eviction without placement, which is the most significant merit of the proposal. The guarantee protection of housing and the making of municipal procedures more transparent are also reflected in this conceptually.
Under the amendment, the municipality will try to intervene at several points to avoid housing loss. Thus, in the case of debt, it draws the tenant’s attention to debt management, installment payment options or the help of the Hálózat Alapítvány (“Network Foundation”, the foundation’s aim is to help socially deprived citizens of the capital to cover their housing costs if they are unable to cover the cost of affordable housing).
Although the draft was already reported in the press at the end of May, the organisations involved were not aware of it until then, including the Streetlawyer. Although the law also requires local governments to involve the relevant professional and non-governmental organizations in the legislative process, we were only later invited to a professional consultation with the Metropolitian Municipality. (The full opinion of the Streetlawyer on the draft of the local government can be found via this link, its additional appendix can be found here. The proposal of the Municipality of Budapest can be accessed by clicking here.) The consultation two weeks ago was successful: let’s see what we managed to amend.
In the draft originally described by the Metropolitan Municipality, those who undertake to make the apartment suitable for its intended (i.e. to renovate it) would have had an advantage in selecting the tenant. This selection criterion would obviously have helped applicants in a better financial position and put those in need at a disadvantage. If the general goal of the housing policy of the Metropolitan Municipality is to help those who do not have the opportunity to pay market rents, it is not acceptable to provide such an advantage to those in a better financial position. Finally, the adopted regulation does not contain this discriminatory provision.
Section 18 (2) of the Tenancy Decree details what circumstances can be considered as such that may give rise to a special discretion when concluding a housing tenancy contract. The discretional decision can usually create backward situations as it can push objective judgment into the background. As the revision of discretion as a legal basis was not part of the current amendment to the Decree, we considered it at least essential to expand the aspects of discretion. Finally, the adopted regulation also takes into account the interests of the victims of domestic violence, i.e. this life situation has also become a separate aspect of discretional decisions.
It is also obvious when concluding contracts, extending and terminating fixed-term contracts that, despite the conditions regulated in detail, the decision depends on further discretional consideration. In the opinion of the Streetlawyer Association, this – without regulating the aspects of consideration – can lead to an arbitrary decision and increase the risk of corruption.
Although we emphasized in our professional opinion sent to the municipality that it is expressly contraindicated and is without legal authorisation to notify the family care center of the termination of the tenancy contract, the amendment ultimately provides for this. In our opinion, this does not fall within the remit of the Metropolitan Municipality because it does not have the competence to do so, as the legal relationship between the Municipality and the tenant is a civil legal relationship. Social powers – with the exception of Margaret Island and homeless people – are not vested in the Metropolitan Municipality or the Chief Clerk of the Municipality. Among the organisations and institutions entitled to provide information, Budapest Municipality as the lessor is not included in the list of Section 64 (2) of the Social Act, so it has no legal authority.
The Streetlawyer, as a professional organization, expects the Metropolitan Municipality to pay due attention to ensuring the publicity of the preparation of legislation and to ensure the exercise of the legally protected right of opinion of interest representation bodies. Recognise that securing this right is not only a formality, but also a self-interest, given the many years of experience of advocacy bodies.
At the same time, we consider it an encouraging sign for the relationship between the professional and civil spheres as well as politics that the municipality finally considered our professional proposals and was able to modify its ideas.
The amendment to the regulation is a step towards a comprehensive housing policy reform in the capital. At the same time, the Streetlawyer sees the development and implementation of a new, modern housing policy and regulation, implemented in all districts and coordinated with the capital inevitable for real change.
Cover image: Fortepan / Makovecz Benjamin