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Top court thwarts municipal housing law stipulations

Stipulations in Hungary's recent municipal housing law facilitating a purchase option to tenants renting their units for a shorter term than 25 years are in contravention with the constitution, the Constitutional Court said in a ruling published on Thursday.

The constitutional review was initiated by President Janos Ader, who thought that allowing tenants to privatise their municipal units in historical monuments was in conflict with a constitutional stipulation to preserve the national heritage, and such restrictions to the ownership of local governments were not justified.

In its justification, the court said that ensuring a purchase option to tenants should be followed by indemnification to the local governments in proportion with the assets they lose in the transaction.

According to the court, the original purpose of the law to provide options to tenants of housing units in historical buildings similar to the privatisation option offered to municipal tenants in the 1990s, would only be met in the case of long-term tenants.

The top court also noted that the state had a constitutional obligation to introduce sufficient guarantees that historical buildings, when privatised, should continue to be managed in line with their historica value.

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