The number of apartments available in social rental housing programs in Hungary is extremely low (approx. 2-3% of all apartments), thus people in need often have to wait years for an apartment to become available. However even the available apartments are hard to acquire. The City is for All Group and the Streetlawyer Association have prepared a short guide detailing the types of housing available, the important details of the application process, frequently asked questions and recurring issues.
Types of housing applications
The conditions and rules regarding the rental of apartments owned by the local government are set in the respective decrees of the district councils and the Municipality of Budapest. In most cases apartments are rented out based on an application procedure, however apartments can be rented out without such procedure as well.
Application based rental
Social housing application
Applications may be submitted after the local government opened the application process. Major problems are the long waiting lists for the apartments, and the scarcity of social housing applications. The local government usually decides based on a point system, which can vary based on their respective decrees.
The apartments available are usually in need of renovation, the cost of which is deductible from the rent. Very few apartments are in a condition that allows tenants to move in immediately.
The rent in the case of these apartment is usually low, and affordable.
Cost based housing application
It is possible to apply for cost based housing programmes, in accordance with the criteria specified in the call for applications. The rent of these apartments is usually affordable as it is based on the upkeep costs, but higher than that of apartments available in social housing programmes. The rent is calculated based on the size of the apartments. These apartments are usually in good condition, allowing tenants to move in immediately.
Market based housing application
Applications may be submitted after the local government opened the application process, the rent is calculated based on the size of the apartment. There are usually only a few apartments available, however these are usually in good condition allowing tenants to move in immediately. The rent is relatively high as it is based on the prices of similar apartments on the housing market. Applications are ranked based on a point system.
Housing options outside the application system
These options can vary from district to district and are regulated in the decrees of the respective local governments. In the following we will present the two most common options.
Application of equity
In this case the basis for equity has to be presented. Apartments based on equity are usually granted to those in extreme need, and these applications are assessed out of turn. The criteria and the process is regulated in the decrees of the representative local governments. The basis for equity has to be verified by documents submitted alongside the application. The rent is low, affordable.
Application for temporary housing
Temporary housing can only be requested in specific circumstances (e.g. the apartment of the applicant is uninhabitable due to natural disaster or fire damage). A common problem is that local governments have a very limited number of apartments that can be used for temporary housing, however the applications are usually assessed in a few days. The rent of these apartments is usually low.
Common mistakes made during the application process
An application is made up of several different components that require close attention, as many applications are rejected on a formal basis. In case of uncertainty it is best to consult the local government officials. Each local government has its own application form, and the range of documents and personal data needed for the application varies. Furthermore there can be additional limitations set on who can apply for apartments in the various districts.
- wrong application form: some local government only provide application forms in exchange for a fee, however in most cases the forms are downloadable from the local government’s website. Always consult local government officials before submitting the application, as the application forms available on the websites are often missing the list of available apartments, or do not list all the documents needed.
- incomplete application: the application form has not been filled out completely
- correction errors: the application form contains corrections
- missing documents: not all of the prescribed documents have been submitted
- missing statements: in some cases statements on the validity of the provided data are required
- missing data of co-moving residents: in case of multiple people moving together. each person needs to present the same verification documents as the applicant
In most cases the local government does not disclose the cause of rejection, however consulting the local government officials can prove beneficial, as they often elaborate on the problems leading to the rejection.
General problems with applications
As local governments have a very limited number of available apartments, after the application process is concluded, most applicants are placed on a waiting list, and have to wait years for an apartment to become available. Some districts only provide apartments to public servants, while some use the available apartments for other purposes than rental.
The point system is not unified, and can vary greatly from district to district, which maked applications more difficult. Sometimes there are criteria set, that are hard to meet. Deciding factor can be the financial status of the applicant, the number of co-moving residents, the size of the apartment, and the local regulations on living space required per person.
Some districts require for the applicant to maintain residence in the district for a certain amount of time before applying, and families are often preferred over single applicants.
During the application process it is examined whether the applicant has any inheritance or property, which in most cases is ground for disqualification.
It is imperative for the applicants to familiarise themselves with the local decrees as the rules of the application process can greatly vary.