helmet crest on black
ODGOVOR 2 - od XI. 2002.
Letter to the President of the European Court for Human Rights

Application to the European Court of Human Rights  (somewhat abbreviated,  with some later ramarks)  submitted by  dr. med. Branko Soric,  1st August 1998


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APPLICATION   (.........)



Council of Europe     Strasbourg, France 

*) (A later REMARK:  The European Commission of Human Rights has subsequently been replaced by the European Court of Human Rights).



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A.  THE APPLICANT  (.........).

      1.  Name of applicant    SORIC          2.  First name (s)   BRANKO

      3.  Nationality   CROATIAN              4. Occupation   M.D., RETIRED

      5.  Date and place of birth     13th September 1933, Split, Croatia

      6.  Permanent address    Vlaska 84/I,  10000 Zagreb, CROATIA

      7.  Tel. (......)   8. At present at   Vlaska 84/I,  10000 Zagreb    (......)  

      9.  Name of representative  (I have no representative)

     10. (.........)  




A form of authority signed by the applicatnt should be submitted if a representative is appointed.  (I have not signed any form of authority.  I have not appointed any representative).


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      (A later REMARK:   From the next text,  under  II.  14.  1., 2., 3.,   it is evident that the ownership rights have forever been seized by the laws from private owners of flats  and have been given to tenantship-right holders forever.  In the Law on Housing Relations, and also in this text, the word "tenant" means the "holder of the tenantship right".  The "tenant's right" means the same as the "tenantship right".  A "private" flat is a nominally "private" flat, which has been seized forever by the law, by giving the tenantship right to the tenant)..

14.    1.  In former Yugoslavia tenants acquired the permanent and inheritable "tenants' right" in flats that had been either in private ownership ("private" flats") or in "social ownership" ("social. property flats").  It was acquired either by getting a "contract to use a flat"  (ugovor o koristenju stana)  or by decree. The tenant's right was considered to be a personal ownership on the flat, or a  "divided ownership"  according to legal commentaries;     it corresponded to more than  90%  of the value of the flat.  Its content was defined by the Law on tenants relations (Zakon o stambenim odnosima)  from 1959 and later.  The Yugoslav constitution guaranteed the tenants' rights as one of the fundamental rights that could never be abolished or restricted.  Croatia as a legal successor to Yugoslavia should have respected all acquired rights. 


     2.   Private owners were  not forced to sign a "contract to use a flat"  while a holder of the tenant's right (the tenant) could not choose a flat, but he had to accept the tenant's right on the flat in which he lived.  He paid a very small rent (cca 1/30 or 1/40 of a freely negotiated rent) . After a tenant' s death,  the tenant's right was transferred endlessly to his legal heirs.


     3.    After 1974,  new tenant's rights could have been acquired only in social-property flats;    but, by the Law on tenants Relations, tenants who had acquired the tenant's right in private flats before 1974,  kept (forever) their tenant's right, which was proclaimed equal to the tenant's right in social-property flat  (Art. 3 of the Law).  Also, the Constitutional Court of the new Republic of Croatia state, that there had been only one type of tenant's right, regardless of  who had granted it to the tenants (Constitutional Court's Decision  in "Narodne novine", No. 11, 1997,  p. 681).


4.     I moved into the flat in which I live today (in Zagreb, Vlaska 84/I) in 1939, at the age of six, with my mother. Until 1958 my mother and I were in an exactly equal position as any other tenant. In 1958 the rented flats in the house were nationalized, but in 1959 some of these nationalized flats were chosen quite arbitrarily and were returned to the previous private owners  -  and this was already a discrimination against the tenants in these private flats.  (A later REMARK:  These flats were only formally, nominally,  returned   i.e. registered  in the land registers,  but  the nominal owners  remained  forever  deprived  of the ownership rights by the laws,  which is evident from the fact  that we have kept our tenantship right forever).  The flat in which I live was one of the few flats in the nationalized buildings, that had been thus "returned" and transformed into "private".flats, and so I was discriminated against, although I felt practically no ill effects of this discrimination during former Yugoslavia.


5.     The original owner of the flat (Zora Rebula)  granted, of her own free will, the tenant's right to my mother in 1967  (by a contract  -  the "contract to use a flat" *.   This original owner was damaged by the nationalization of most flats in the building, but she knew that I had also been damaged in former Yugoslavia by getting, as a physician, an inadequately low salary, and so she decided to make,  again of her free will,  a new  contract ("to use a flat")  with me in  l982,  after my-mother's death.  She explicitly wished to grant the tenant's right  to me,  because she had no children of her own,  and therefore she was not much concemed about who would use the flat after her death.

      These contracts (from the 1967 and the 1982) were correct and valid contracts, and they have never been disputed by anybody.

      (* Correction:  That previous contract of 1967 was made with the "SIZ stanovanja"). - (The Court has received a verified copy of the latter contract of 1982, by which I had acquired the tenantship right).


6.     In the new Republic of Croatia, the above-mentioned discrimination (from the 1959, which practically had not been felt by tenants during the existence of Yugoslavia), has been misused as a pretext for a new, real and severe discrimination and maltreatment, instead of being abolished.

      While tenants in social-property flats, and some others too, have got the right to buy cheaply the flats at a price of less than one tenth of the flat value, I, being a tenant in a private flat, not only have been denied this rights to buy the flat, but I have also been  deprived of my tenant's right which is my possession  (because it has a great economic value, corresponding to  more than 9/10 of the flat value) *  and which is also the right to my home as well as my family's home.  

      This was accomplished by new laws:  the Law on Selling Flats with the Tenant's Right of the 3rd June 1991 (Art. 3 etc.);  the Law on Compensation for the Property Seized During the Yugoslav Communist Rule, from the 25th October 1996;  the Law on Renting the Flats, from the 22nd October 1996 (Art. 30 etc.).

*)  (A later REMARK:   According to earlier decisions of the European Court of Human Rights,  "possessions"  has a broad meaning  which includes all rights that have an  economic value.   See:  "The European Convention on Human Rights"  by Francis G. Jacobs & Robin C. A. White;  Clarendon Press - Oxford, 1996, p. 247 etc.  Hence it is evident that the tenantship right is a permanent possession of  its holder).


7.     Tenants rights were abolished by the Law on Renting the Flats (Art. 30).  This has not affected those who had cheaply bought the social-property flats, because the content of their tenant's right is fully comprised within the content of the ownership right that they have acquired. On the other hand, we, the tenants in private flats, are forced to make new contracts **  by which we should become "protected lease-holders" (and should pay limited rents); however, new members of our families or households (who will later be bom, or will later move in) will have no right upon the flat - whereas  the tenant's right was to be inherited endlessly and could last forever.   Besides, on the ground of the Law on Renting Flats, a "protected lease-holder" can be driven into a much-worse flat (and this is made even worse by the Constitutional-Court's Decision of 31 March 1998), whereas the holder oft the tenant's right  practically  could not be forced  to exchange the flats unless he consented, and the new flat had to be practically equal to the previous one. So, the content of my tenant's right has been enormously reduced, which is a violation of my possessions;   also, my home and my family life has not been respected, and I am severely discriminated in this respect 

**)  (A later REMARK:   Still,  I have not signed such a contract, because I want to keep my tenantship right forever and I do not agree to be deprived of it).


8.     The purpose and the aim of treating the tenants in private flats differently (by new laws) is to increase the possessions of the today's nominal owners of the flats, which increase is quite undeserved, unwarrantable and unfounded. (That aim is unjustifiable in itself, and it cannot at all justify the enormous difference in treatment).

(Later REMARKS:   Protection of ownership is  not  a legitimate reason or justification  to abolish tenantship rights,  which is evident  from the fact that the nationalized flats have  not been returned  to original owners,  and,  moreover,  some private owners are forced by the Law on Renting Flats (of 1996)  to cheaply sell flats to tenants. ---  According to decisions of  the European Court of Human Rights, persons who are  in  analogous  or similar situations must  not  be treated differnetly.   See:  Francis G. Jacobs & Robin C. A. White: "The European Convention on Human Rights", 2nd ed., Clarendon Press - Oxford, 1996, p. 284- 290).


9.     My tenant's right, that corresponds to more than 90% of the value of the flat and that had been granted to me by the original owner of her own free will, is now taken away from me;  while most tenants in the same building where I live are now buying the nationalized flats, that had been seized from the original owner without her consent;  and all this is happening  in spite of the proclaimed purpose of those new laws,  mentioned above,  to restore the seized property or possessions. The nationalized flats have not been restored to nominal owners.  The tenants who have got the right to buy them, have by no means deserved that right more than I deserve it. 


10.    Moreover, this is happening after all the decades of the existence of tenant's right, during which I have always firmly believed, on the ground of the contract ("to use the flat") and the laws, that I had forever secured a home (flat) for me and my family. Had I not had the tenant's right, I would have worked abroad and would have earned much more in order to buy another flat of my own choice.


11.    I have complained,  together with other tenants in private flats,  to the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Croatia.  This Court has to apply the Constitution of the Republic of Croatia, as well as the Constitutional Law on Human Rights (passed in 1991, emended in 1992).  Article 3 of the Constitution guarantees the highest values of the constitutional system, that are: equality, social justice, respect for human rights, and others.  Art. 3 and Art. 48 guarantee the right of ownership, The Constitutional Law on human rights guarantees the human rights (to respect for home and family life, freedom from discrimination etc.)  to every citizen in conformity with the European Convention on Human Rights. However, the Constitutional Court, by its Decision of the 31st of March 1998, has not abolished the violation of my human rights, but has even made them worse by abolishing Article 21, Paragraph 2 of the Law on Renting Flats, so that it has become even easier to expel a tenant from a private flat.

      P.S.      Please, see also my letters to the Secretary of the European Conimission of Human Rights of the 12th of May 1998 and the 15th of June 1998.  I wrote therein about the tenant's right and the violation of the tenant's human rights. I enclosed copies ofthe Law on Renting Flats and the Decision of the Constitutional Court ofthe 31st March 1998. Therein I commented the statements made by the Constitutional Court, which I repeat here partly.


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15.    1.   I complain about the violations of my rights to respect my  home and family life  (Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights), and the peaceful enjoyment of possessions  (Article 1 of the First Protocol), whereby I also complain about being deprived of my possessions.


2.    Besides, I complain about being discriminated against with regard to the same above-mentioned rights (same Articles with Article 14 of the Convention).



1.    For decades I have had the tenant's right (on the "private flat" in which I live). The tenant's right was my possession  because it had a great economic value, and it meant the respect of my home as well as my family's home, and, therefore, my family life.

2.    Article 1 of the First Protocol and Article 8 of the Convention have firstly been violated by the abolishment of my tenant's right by the Law on Renting the Flats, Art. 30, and  later  the same rights were again violated when the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Croatia did not abolish Art. 30 of the above Law, thus refusing to restore my tenant's rights (on March 31 1998, i.e. after November 5, 1997 - the date of entry in force of the Convention with respect to Croatia).

3.    Neither the public interest (mentioned in Art. 1 of the First Protocol nor national security, public safety, economic well-being of the country, protection of righs and freedoms of others (mentioned in Art. 8 of the Convention) can justify the above-mentioned violations of my human rights, because the sole purpose and reason why I am deprived of my possessions, home etc. is to increase the possessions of another individual (the nominal owner of the flat), which increase is quite undeserved, unwarrantable and legally unfounded.


4.     Article 14 of the Convention was violated because I was discriminated:  I have been treated differently from most of the other tenants (those in "social-property flats") who had formerly been  in the same position  as myself,  but thereafter they where given the right to cheaply buy their flats on the ground of their tenant's right, while I have not been given such a right to buy my flat on the same groimd of my tenant's right, which was even abolished, despite the fact that all these tenant's rights are practically the same and equal;   moreover, all tenants had been in an exactly equal position until the nationalization of flats m 1958,  so that any difference between tenant's rights, would also be a discrimination. The possessions of other tenants (those in "social-property flats", "nationalized flats" etc.) and their right and respect for their homes have been increased (because buying cheaply a flat means an increase of the content of the former tenant's right, i.e. an increase of the economic value of possessions, while my possessions and my right and respect for my home were severely reduced by the abolishment of my tenant's right. Those who got the right to cheaply buy their flats have lost nothing - they have not been affected by the abolishment of the tenant's right, because the content of this right is comprised within the content of the ownership right that they have acquired - while I lost very much - the economic value of the tenant's right corresponding to cca 90% of the flat value.  All this was caused by the Constitutional-Court's Decision of the 31st of March, i.e. after 5th November 1997.


5.     My human rights were violated even before the 5th November 1997, but I complain about the facts and violations that have occurred after the 5th of November 1997, which is the date of coming into force of the Convention in Croatia;  namely, I complained to the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Croatia.  The Constitutional Court had to act in conformity with the European Convention on Human Rights, but it did not, and it did not abolish Art. 30 of the Law on Renting the Flats.  By abolishing this article  it should have restored the full tenant's right to me, thus stopping the discrimination. So, the violations of my human rights (damage, deprivation, disrespect for my home, discrimination etc.), are now caused by the Court's wrong decision made on March 31, 1998.


6.     Moreover, the Constitutional Court additionally violated my human's rights, because with the same Decision (of 31st March 1998) it abolished some other articles of the Law on Renting the Flats - e.g. Art. 21, Para. 2 - thus increasing the discrimination against tenants.  I am also complaining about these new, additional, increased violations of my rights set forth by the Convention.  Namely, by Art. 21 of the Law on Renting the Flats, the nominal owner could give notice to a tenant  (i.e. a "protected lease-holder") in certain circumstances, but only on the condition of providing another flat of specified qualities to the tenant. By abolishing Art. 21, para. 2 of that Law, now it is easier to expel the tenant, even without providing another flat to him, or the tenant might be driven into a much-worse flat, etc.


7.     There are many other tenants, who are in the same or similar situation as myself, and who intend to apply to the Europeau Commission of Human Rights. I request, if possible, that all their arguments and explanations be also considered and applied when my complaint is considered. Some of those tenants have got a flat by means of a decree (decision) replaciug the contract (made by the authorities); but they have also got the tenant's right quite legally; there were no other options, no possibility  to choose the flat under communism; all tenants had to accept the tenant's right on the flat in which they lived.  However, I was granted my tenant's right by the original owner, of her own free will.


8.     Article 48 of the Law on Renting Flats is connected with Art. 61 of the Law on Tenants' Relations (Zakon o stambenim odnosima) of December 9, 1985, that provided that a tenant, who became owner of another flat, must move to that flat, or, if the flat was inadequate, he had to let it to another tenant. However, at that time, the latter tenant could not even acquire a tenant's right on such a private flat.

      Article 48 of the new Law on Renting the Flats (of October 1996) provides that persons, who have acquired the right to use a flat on the ground of Article 61 of the Law on Tenants' Relations, have the right to buy that private flat  in conformity with the Law on Selling the flats with the Tenant's Right,  and  the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Croatia interpreted that provision as a manifestation of social justice and as being in conformity with the Constitution.  Namely, the owner of that private flat has himself cheaply bought the flat in which he lived as tenant on the ground of the above-mentioned Law on Selling the Flats, and in this way he is compensated for the flat which he is compelled to sell.

      So, it is evident from the very Decision of the Court, that it is quite correct and just to compel nominal owners to sell the private flats to tenants, if these owners are given a correspondmg compensation.


9.     I am,  being a tenant in a so-called private flat,  in the same position as those persons who have got the right to buy private flats, and, moreover, I have the tenant's right;  but the Constitutional Court has refused to abolish Art. 3 of the Law on Selling the flats with the Tenant's right by which I am denied the right to buy this private flat in which I live and have the tenant's right!  There is no  objective or reasonable justification for treating me differently;  I should get the same right to buy the flat (and, consequently, the State should compensate the nominal owner.  So, I am discriminated by the Constitutional Court's Decision of March 31, 1998.

      Besides the above-mentioned discrimination, concerning the right to cheaply buy the flat,  the basic discrimination consists in the abolishment of the tenant's right,  which means depriving me of my possessions, home, etc., while other tenants, who could cheaply buy the flats, are not deprived of their possessions, home, etc.


10.    It is important to note, finally, that in all the countries in transition, certain legal institutes have lasted in a continuity of almost fifty years. Such example is the tenant's right which was made - according to the decision of the lawgiver from the period of former Yugoslavia, and furthermore in the legal commentaries and interpretations of the Law on Tenants' Relations (Zakon o stambenim odaosima)  -  equal to the right of ownership.  Countries such as the Czech Republic, Hungary etc. solved the question in the way, that all holders of the tenant's right were made equal after the democratic changes, so that they got the right to buy their apartments, whereas the state compensated the owners. 


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16.   Final decision (date, court or authority and nature of decision)

      31st of March, 1998;   Constitutional Court of the Republic of Croatia,  DECISION No. U-I-762/1996,   published in "NARODNE NOVINE", No. 48, 6th April 1998, pp. 995-1005, Zagreb


17.   Other decisions  (.....) (---)      18.   Is any other appeal or remedy available which you have not used? (......)    No other appeal or remedy is available


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19.     I want my tenant' s right to be fully restored to me, and I want to be treated equally as the (former) holders of the tenant's right in the social-property flats are treated, and to be granted the same rights as they have been granted, namely, I should also get the right to cheaply buy my flat, while the nominal owner should be compensated by the State.



20.   Have you submitted the above complaints to any other procedure of intemational investigation or settlement ? (......)   NO.


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21.    a)   Decision of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Croatia    No. U-I-762/1996

         b)  Appeal to the Constitutional Court by a group of tenants requesting equal treatment before the Law 


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VIII - STATEMENT OF PREFERRED LANGUAGE   (......) 22.   I prefer to receive the Commission's decision in:     English



23.   I hereby declare that, to the best of my knowledge and belief, the information 1 have given in the application is correct (.........)

   Place:   Zagreb        Date:   1st August 1998

(Signature of the applicant):  Branko Soric

(I have no representative,  but I  consulted  a lawyer who helped me to write the above application).   





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