Denationalization and 23 years of rightlessness.
On 30 October 1991 the Supreme Council of the Latvian Republic adopted the laws “On Denationalization of Housing Estates” and “On Return of Housing Estates to Legitimate Owners”, which divided the Latvian population into tenants of denationalized houses and usual tenants.
Within the period from 1992 to 2002 10,321 dwelling houses with 78,046 apartments were denationalized, which makes up 8 % of the entire dwelling stock.
Those dwelling houses were handed over to private ownership together with their tenants and without the tenants’ consent; the government did not offer the tenants any resettlement to other apartments or any compensation. Actually, refusing to provide the tenants with any protection mechanism in the changed circumstances, the State unilaterally violated the terms and conditions of effective perpetual contracts for lease of public dwelling premises.
Today 23 years have passed since the laws “On Denationalization of Housing Estates” and “On Return of Housing Estates to Legitimate Owners” were adopted. During these years, unlike other residents of the country, the tenants of denationalized and evicted houses were denied the right to privatize, exchange, sell or convey by inheritance their apartments. Such tenants make up 10% of all the Latvian population. They are exposed to physical and psychological pressure, as house owners may arbitrarily block water supply, sanitation, heating, electricity.
In 2004 the Cabinet of Ministers developed a program for providing compensating benefits, which, however, were minute compared to the cost of apartments the people were deprived of; besides, it was in force just up to the middle of 2009. Moreover, it only concerned a limited group of people and was only applicable within the framework of the Social Assistance Law. Thereby a circle of claimers for receiving those grants as well as for the right statement for queue to receive municipal housing was narrowed down sharply.
As a result of outrageous legislative situation hundreds of families were given the keys of the street and became down-and-out homeless vagrants, while many people did not withstand pressing from the houseowners and went to the next world untimely.
According to the data of the judicial statistics department only during the period from 1995 to April 2009 38,313 families or 115 thousand Latvian inhabitants were ousted.
Ousters are going on up to date. During 3 days of December about 10 ouster cases are coming on only in one district court of Riga; under the Latvian conditions an ousting judgement is actually a death sentence.
In a democratic society a housing market promotion cannot be a reason for adoption of the laws which serve for discrimination of a part of the society and for benefication of another part.
Full compensation outpayment to the denationalized houses tenants irrespective of their income level is the only solution to the problem.
We require that the State turn attention to this category of the Latvian population and perform its commitments.
Thereby historical justice for those who are still alive will be restored.
LMĪA co-chairperson N.Yolkina