“The current rules for the provision of rental housing do not reflect the city’s current needs from the point of view of modernization, maintenance and development of the housing stock, or from the point of view of the offer of housing for people with difficult access to the housing market,” said Deputy Mayor Kateřina Dobrozemská, who is in charge of social and housing policy .
The new approach, approved by the city council, will result in the division of the housing stock into apartments offered to the city’s citizens in the form of a rent auction and further into subsidized housing apartments for different groups of citizens. These will be apartments for the elderly, the disabled, affordable housing for young families, social apartments and service apartments.
Greater chance of getting an apartment
Today, the statutory city of Olomouc owns 1,520 apartments, of which 625 are special purpose apartments – 557 apartments for the elderly, 68 barrier-free apartments and 26 social apartments. The rest is made up of ordinary housing stock, from which about 40 apartments are released every year. And it is precisely the city apartments released after January 1 that will be newly divided into rental or subsidized housing auction regimes.
“Each vacated city flat will be assessed for suitability for a rental auction or for listing for some type of supported housing. At the same time, the quality and attractiveness of the apartment, its location in the building, the social climate of the locality and the current social climate in the building will be taken into account,” confirmed Deputy Dobrozemská. The city management hopes from this that it will be more possible for various groups of citizens to obtain rent in a city apartment and more efficient management of city housing fund.
Help and advice
At the same time, the city is still waiting for the adoption of the law on support in housing, which is soon to be discussed by the government. This would start the support of rental housing for ordinary and vulnerable groups of residents.
Nevertheless, Olomouc has already decided to go the route of supporting all those interested in improving their housing situation and helping them solve related problems.
“The housing support department was established at the municipality. From January, all residents of Olomouc whose housing situation is unsatisfactory will be able to visit the newly established municipal contact point for housing. Its staff will provide advice and help to every interested person in housing options, or mediate the submission of an application for renting a city apartment,” the deputy explained.
Michal Majer, head of the municipality’s social affairs department, explained why a new contact point is being introduced in Olomouc: “If you are seriously injured, you can call an ambulance, which will come to you very quickly. When people or entire families are at risk of losing their housing, or have already lost it, they usually don’t even know where to turn for help. The contact point for housing should be the point where these people can go and where we will try to help them with their situation.”
The contact center will also collect requests from applicants for various types of supported housing in city apartments, will work with social workers to investigate the social situation of applicants, will evaluate applications for renting an apartment in the city and will maintain a waiting list of applicants for social housing, as well as those interested in affordable apartments and office apartments. In the activity of the contact point for housing, the available data of persons in housing need and the current capacities of the housing stock will be linked.
An increase in the price of rent
Existing tenants of city apartments will be affected by the rent increase from March. Twenty percent as standard, and ten percent in the case of apartments for the elderly and wheelchair-accessible apartments.
The last rent increase for city apartments took place in 2019, and after five years the rent is significantly below the threshold for apartments in private ownership. The current amount of rent limits maintenance, as the costs of labor, services and materials have increased. According to model calculations by the municipality’s social affairs department, existing tenants who have lower incomes should be able to cover the difference between their current and new rent through housing benefit. At the same time, the rent charged by commercial housing providers is, in the long term, up to double that of city apartments and is continuously increasing.
“For comparison: in the same period, the rent in Olomouc in non-city apartments increased by roughly twenty-five percent. Even now, the city of Olomouc has increased the rent price more considerately for tenants than other apartment landlords in the region,” commented Deputy Dobrozemská on this step of the city council.