A Comparative Legal and Policy Examination
Edited by Padraic Kenna, Sergio Nasarre-Aznar, Peter Sparkes and Christoph U. Schmid
Ecology, Technology and the Commons
Ugo Mattei and Alessandra Quarta
Magdalena Habdas and Grzegorz Panek
In Poland, after privatization and the ensuing lack of public housing, an unbalanced housing policy induced governments to place the social and financial burden of housing low income groups on landlords up to the 1990s. However, the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights has stopped this approach by finding a violation of the owner’s freedom of property. This case law has also had repercussions in neighbouring countries where landlords were exposed to similar problems. It impressively shows the supranational constitutional dimension of commutative justice limiting national legislators. As a reaction, tenancy legislation was deregulated in Poland and its neighbouring countries; and the long-standing fragmentation of the market into privileged and non-privileged rentals as well as the communist legacy of the so-called tenant quasi-ownership were abolished. The new Polish law sets forth detailed provisions on rent setting and rent increase; in particular, the rent must not, as a rule, exceed 3 per cent of the dwelling’s reconstruction value. Shorter time-limited tenancies have been introduced so as to promote the offer of additional dwellings. Despite these reforms, the housing situation in Poland is tense due to a lack of rental dwellings in particular for low income groups.
Elena Bargelli and Ranieri Bianchi
This chapter explores the black market in the private rental sector in Southern European legal systems, with a particular focus on Italy. The black market is an often neglected real world phenomenon constituted by unofficial, informal contracts which violate binding legal rules, in particular public law rules on tax, registration and inhabitability requirements, and are therefore mostly kept secret by the parties. Such secretive and illegal arrangements, which render resort to the courts more difficult, tend to disadvantage the weaker party, typically the tenant. Against this background, the Italian legislator has introduced sanction mechanisms under private law aimed at giving tenants incentives to report black market practices without endangering their own position. However, the mandatory adaptation of the contract to the advantage of the tenant has been declared void by the Italian Constitutional Court. Yet, other sanctions continue to exist: landlords may only enforce written and registered contracts whereas tenants may ask for registration even at a later stage to invoke their rights. Yet these measures presuppose an effective, swift and affordable judicial system trusted by the tenant, which is not fully present in Southern Europe in general and in Italy in particular.