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Debate on the planned sale of council-owned properties

May 26th, 2021

Fidesz MP László Böröcz tabled a bill in Parliament that would enable current tenants to buy flats owned by local councils at a hugely discounted price (10-30 per cent of their market value).

While they are legally defined as social housing, life-long rental rights can in practice be bought and sold, and only very few council owned apartments are given to new tenants on the basis of need.  According to Magyar Nemzet, they are usually purchased at 50 per cent of the price of similar private property. In Hungary, less than 2 per cent of apartments are in council ownership, and the shortage of social housing contributes to the homeless problem. In addition to left-wing mayors, the bill is also opposed by several pro-government city mayors.

Népszava’s Kata Ámon accuses the government of intending to eliminate welfare housing. The left-wing columnist also suggests that the government wants to punish local councils for being critical of the government’s housing policy. Ámon goes on to claim that government subsidies to facilitate ownership have boosted real estate prices, making it even more difficult for poor people to buy or rent. If current tenants can buy their homes, councils will have to face an even bigger housing crisis, and large numbers of people will end up in homeless shelters, Ámon predicts.

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