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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.