The Equality of Tenants' Rights and Positions
In 1994 The Union of Tenants' Associations of Croatia (whose name was later changed into "Croatian Union of Tenants",
Trg bana Jelacica 15, Zagreb - see the NOTE below!), in its advertisements (1 and 2 below) published in the paper "Vjesnik",
referred to the EQUALITY of all tenants' positions:
(1) DECLARATION (March 20, 1994):
--- "We demand the EQUALITY
before the laws, for ALL the tenants, i.e. holders of tenantship rights from the previous social system, REGARDLESS OF THE
ORIGIN OF FLATS". - (Explanation by B.S.: "Origin" refers to the ownership on the flats, i.e. either public or private ownership.
The originally-private flats have been seized either by giving the tenantship rights to tenants or by nationalization or confiscation).
--- "We demand the possiblity, for ALL the tenantship-right holders, to (cheaply) BUY THE FLATS under EQUAL criteria and
EQUAL legal conditions, REGARDLESS OF THE ORIGIN OF FLATS" (......).
--- "We draw the attention of the general public,
of the Cabinet and the Sabor (Parliament) of the Republic of Croatia to the fact, that, if (......) the denationalization
be made inhumanely (......), the right to living and being, as citizens, EQUAL before the laws will be seized from tens of
thousands of families (......) of this country. This would be a new sin against their own people, identical to the one that
has been done by the previous society against the then owners" (Capitals by B.S.).
--- SIGNATURES: The Union of Tenants'
Associations of Croatia, trade unions, political parties including those who later came to power i.e. the members of the coalition
that won the January-2000 elections: Social-Democratic Party of Croatia (SDP), Croatian People's Party (HNS), Croatian Social-Liberal
Party (HSLS), Croatian Peasant Party (HSS), Istrian Democratic Union (IDS), other parties, and the International Union of
(2) An Open Letter to the Sabor and the Cabinet of the Republic of Croatia (March 29, 1994):
"If all the relevant national institutions (legislative, executive, political parties, churches, scientific, and others) will
take the tenantship right as a social fact comprising the whole complexity of our past, present and future, this right will
be conceded to ALL the citizens of Croatia IN THE SAME WAY (MANNER). In the opposite event the consequences will be irreparable".
(......) (Capitals by B.S.).
--- NOTE: The above-mentioned tenants' union demanded correctly in 1994 same rights for
the tenants in public, private and other flats, but later it only took care of some of the tenants. In the following years
it did not defend the rights of the tenants in private flats, but left them in the lurch. Therefore, most of these tenants
left this union, and some of these dissatisfied and disappointed tenants have subsequently founded a new union called: The
Independent Union of Tenants = Samostalna udruga stanara (briefly: SUS).
--- ADDITIONAL NOTE (March 2002): Recently some members of SUS and some other tenants are telling me, that
they are not sure how much to trust
any of the tenants' organizations in Croatia. (I am not a memeber of any
such organizations). Allegedly, they suspect
that the Croatian Union of Tenants is trying to get control over SUS and
others, in order to impose solutions that
would be in the interest of owners and
harmful to tenants. Many Croatian tenants are not members of any tenants' unions, and they want to cheaply buy their flats (while
the owners should get a compensation) as had been proposed in Sabor (= Parliament) by the now-ruling SDP party
(and others) in 1998 and 1999. -
See the site "START":
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the Constitutional Court of Croatia made a decision (published in the official paper "Narodne novine" No. 48/1998), which
is considered by many Croatian citizens (tenants and others) to be quite wrong and illogical, and which is moreover contradictory
to an earlier decision made by the same Court (Narodne novine No. 11/1997 p. 681). Many tenants, some lawyers, and others,
do not believe that such a scandalous decision could really have been written by the Judges of the Constitutional Court or
any serious professionals, unless they had been pressured by politicians.
By the above-mentioned decision of 1998
the Court did not abolish the obvious discrimination against the tenants (i.e. tenantship-right holders) in the so-called
PRIVATE flats. The Court admitted (on page 999) that these tenantship-right holders had had EQUAL RIGHTS as other tenants
(in the "public-property flats" etc.), but said that they had been in a "different" legal position because of the very fact
that their tenantship right had existed on the privately OWNED flats. The Court also said that Article 48, Paragraph 1, of
the Croatian Constitution guaranteed the right of ownership.
However, in the 1997-Decision the same Court said that
all the "former tenantship-rigth holders had acquired these rights on the ground of the same legal regulations and there existed
ONLY ONE TYPE of the tenantship rights INDEPENDENTLY of who had been the tenantship-right giver" (i.e. OWNER of a flat); and
the Court went on to say that the State MUST NOT make differences between the tenantship-right holders which make it impossible
or difficult FOR SOME OF THEM to (cheaply) buy the flats (in which they lived).
So, evidently, the Court meant (in 1997)
that all the tenantship-right holders had been in equal positions and, for this reason, they must be treated equally.
the Constitutional Court allowed certain persons, who lived in other-people's flats (even without tenantship rights!), to
cheaply buy these flats, on the ground of Article 48 of the Law on Renting Flats, taking into account that the owners had
cheaply bought other flats. The Court explained this as an implementation of social justice. This raises the question: If
those, who LIVE (even without tenantship rights) in the flats privately-owned by other people, get the right to cheaply buy
these flats, why the same right is not given to those who not only live but also have the TENANTSHIP RIGHTS in such flats?
The above-mentioned Article 48, Paragraph 1, of the Croatian Constitution reads: "The right of ownership is guaranteed".
- Because the right of ownership can belong to various natural or legal persons, the property can either be owned privately,
or it can be owned by the State, etc.; and any such ownership (regardless of who is the owner) is guaranteed by Article 48,
Para 1, of the Constitution. Hence, of course, all the tenants, who have equal rights and obligations in various flats (either
owned by individuals, or by the State, etc.), are in equal positions.
[ Another question might be this: Should the State - having cheaply sold the public-property
flats - seize from the nominal owners
the small remainders of their ownership rights upon the private flats (occupied by tenantship-right
holders) in order that these flats may likewise be cheaply bought by the tenants?
As a matter of fact, the State has already seized even the whole ownership
rights by Article 48 of the Law on Renting Flats (1996). Those, who might find this to be unjustified, likewise cannot justify the seizure of the permanent, forever-inheritable
tenantship rights that had been acquired legally and, in
some cases, by the free will of original owners.
So, if the owners should not be forced to sell the flats, the tenants should likewise not be deprived of their honestly-acquired rights, as follows from Resolution 1096 of the Parliamentary
Assembly of the Council of Europe].
By the Law on Housing Relations (LHR) the tenants (i.e. tenantship-right
holders) in the so-called private flats were made EQUAL to the tenants in the public-property flats. Namely, by Article 3,
Paragraph 1, of LHR (1974) a tenantship right in a public-property flat was acquired by means of a "contract on using the
flat"; and by Para 2 of the same Article 3, the SAME RIGHT also belonged to a citizen who had acquired the tenantship right
in a private flat on the ground of previous legal regulations.
A tenant, by signing the CONTRACT to use the flat (on
the ground of the LHR), might have obligated himself to move to another practically-EQUAL flat, if it were offered by the
owner, i.e. a flat "which does not worsen any of the circumstances of dwelling, considering especially the size of the flat,
the number of rooms, the comfort and the location of the flat" (etc.; LHR 1974). However, such contractual rights and obligations
have expired (lost validity through the statute of limitations). - That, of course, cannot justify either the discrimination
or the great damage inflicted upon the tenants in private flats; and also, that made no difference in the position of tenants.
On the contrary, all the tenantship-right holders were in practically-equal positions, and that is especially evident if the
economic value (i.e. property value) of the tenantship right is considered.
This value, of any tenantship right, was greater
than 90% (greater than ninety percent) of the market value of the (empty) flat, which is obvious from the fact, that, during
SFRJ (former Yugoslavia), the market price of private flats, occupied by tenantship-right holders, was less than 10% of the
market value of empty flats; and later, in the Republic of Croatia, the public-property flats have likewise been sold to tenants
for less than 10% of the market value. However, while the latter tenants, having cheaply bought the public-property flats,
as well as the nationalized (and other) flats, will keep forever the full value of their tenantship rights, the tenants in
private flats are deprived (without compensation) of their tenantship-right value! This is an obvious, indubitable, most brutal
and most ruthless discrimination, deprivation and damage.
Zeljka Antunovic, speaking in Sabor on behalf of SDP (on
January 29, 1999), said that the tenantship-right holders in private flats "have been discriminated against, by being denied
the right to privatization of flats on which they had quite equal tenantship rights as many others, who were granted the opportunity
to buy their flats on very favourable terms".
It should also be mentioned, that the term "discrimination" is not restricted
to different treatment of persons who had previously been in quite-equal positions. There is also discrimination, if the differently-treated
persons had been in ANALOGOUS or SIMILAR positions. The European Court of Human Rights stated in the Lithgow case that persons
who are placed in ANALOGOUS situations must not be treated differently. In the Fredin case, the Court said that for a claim
to succeed, it has to be 'established, inter alia, that the situation of the alleged victim can be considered SIMILAR to that
of persons who have been better treated '. - (Capitals by B.S.) - (See: Francis G. Jacobs & Robin C. A. White: "The European
Convention on Human Rights", 2nd ed., Clarendon Press - Oxford, 1996, p. 284. etc.).
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