We have submitted an amicus curiae brief to the Constitutional Court of Hungary on the Housing Privatisation Law.
On 24 June 2021, President János Áder turned to the Constitutional Court asking for a constitutional review of the Housing Privatisation Act. The President challenged the law on two grounds. On the one hand, the privatisation of housing violated the cultural artefacts protected by Article P of the Fundamental Law, which constitutes the common heritage of the nation. On the other hand, the compulsory sale of municipal housing stock violated the right to property.
We have previously commented on an earlier, more wide-ranging version of the bill and informed the European Federation of National Organisations Working with the Homeless (FEANTSA) about developments in Hungary. In his arguments, the President also relied on a 1993 Constitutional Court decision presented in our opinion. However, since the head of state did not raise all possible constitutional aspects, we have joined the President’s referral and have submitted an amicus curiae brief to the Constitutional Court to draw attention to aspects that he did not mention in his referral.
In our petition, we pointed out that municipal housing stock is part of the national patrimony, so its use can only be in the public interest. However, the compulsory sale of these properties to private individuals in no way serves a public interest. The law adopted, while claiming to protect families, actually makes it impossible for families to have access to affordable housing. Furthermore, it creates an absurd situation in which, although the Local Government Act gives municipalities the task of managing housing stock and helping people who are homeless, the Act hollows the municipalities’ housing management for the private interests of a few.
We have also pointed out that the law distinguishes between owners and between current and prospective tenants without any reasonable justification. In addition, we stressed that the forced privatisation of housing stock is an obstacle to the achievement of state objectives such as social security and decent housing, as laid down in the Fundamental Law.
To sum up, we have therefore tried to emphasise the community and social aspects that President János Áder has avoided mentioning in his referral. The Constitutional Court will decide on the matter this week, as the court has only thirty days to examine the law upon the President’s referral.