To address the endless chains of short-term rental agreements and expedite property evictions if necessary, the Ministry of Regional Development plans changes to the rules for tenants and landlords. The ministry is currently discussing this matter with the Ministry of Justice.
According to Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Regional Development Ivan Bartoš of the Pirate Party, these proposed changes aim to increase certainty for both tenants and landlords. While the Czech Republic has the highest percentage of people living in rental housing among the new European Union countries, it lags behind Western Europe.
For instance, in countries like Germany, renting is evenly split with ownership, without any negative social stigma associated with being a renter, as Bartoš pointed out. He emphasized that if someone decides to work in a place like Pec pod Sněžkou for five years, they do not necessarily have to buy a property there.
According to a survey conducted by the ministry, one of the reasons why rental housing is seen as a choice out of necessity in the country is the lack of security. One-fifth of the respondents have rental agreements lasting less than a year, while one-fourth have agreements for one to two years. This uncertainty primarily affects individuals under the age of 35.
To address this issue, the Ministry of Regional Development proposes that a rental agreement for a specific duration shorter than three years between the same contractual parties can only be made twice in a row. Subsequent third and all subsequent rental agreements must either be for a specific duration of at least three years or an indefinite period. Finland inspires this measure.
Homeowners Voice Opposition
According to Milan Krček, chairman of the Civic Association of Homeowners in the Czech Republic, the government is attempting to solve a problem that does not exist. He stated that in practice, the extension of a yearly lease is often automatically set.
He believes the state should not interfere in contractual relationships and views the proposal as “resembling social engineering.”
On the other hand, Lenka Veselá, vice president of the Tenants Association of the Czech Republic, welcomes the proposed change and suggests going even further. She advocates for a one-year trial period followed by an indefinite lease.
Zdeněk Pištora, vice president of the Association of Towns and Municipalities of the Czech Republic and mayor of Postoloprty, stated that landlords exploit the chaining of short-term agreements to increase rents, sometimes exceeding 20 percent unreasonably. He also highlighted how the Civil Code limits the rise in rents for indefinite-term contracts.
Adam Zítek, a lawyer and expert in housing law, questioned why the Czech Republic drew inspiration from Finland instead of countries like Germany, the Netherlands, or Denmark, where chaining short-term rentals is prohibited unless there is a particular reason.
Zítek doubts whether the proposed court order to expedite property evictions will significantly accelerate the current process, which averages six months but sometimes takes up to two years. However, he admitted that he did not have a better proposal.
Minister Bartoš aims to have the main changes passed by the Chamber of Deputies by the end of this government’s term, which is by the end of 2025. The necessary changes to the Civil Code and the Civil Procedure Code are expected to be presented by the ministries in the spring.