Easing of the total ban on eviction – application of the Ombudsman to the Prime Minister
The complete suspension of the eviction of tenants, including people occupying flats without any legal title, was introduced during the so-called the first wave of the pandemic on the provision of Art. 15 zzzu sec. 1 of the Act of March 2, 2020 on special solutions related to the prevention, counteraction and combating of COVID-19, other infectious diseases and the crisis situations caused by them. Although dictated by humanitarian reasons, the ban in its current form is widely criticized by entrepreneurs professionally engaged in renting apartments, creditors wishing to obtain satisfaction of claims by means of real estate enforcement, and natural persons who, for example, have to live next to burdensome neighbors.
The ban on eviction, which has been in force indefinitely for over 18 months, i.e. until the epidemic is resolved, has been introduced almost without exceptions and applies to all kinds of grounds for eviction, e.g. court decisions, on the basis of occasional lease agreements, eviction of a troublesome tenant, eviction in real estate enforcement proceedings. As a result, apartment owners were de facto deprived of any legal protection, and often forced to pay fees for the occupants of their premises. This situation prompted the Ombudsman to ask the Prime Minister to introduce necessary changes to the act, mitigating the effects of the ban.
As indicated by the Ombudsman in his letter, the negative economic effects of the pandemic also affected people who own apartments. Meanwhile, the ban on eviction, protecting people who live in someone else’s apartment without a legal title, including those who do not pay fees related to the use of the premises, deprives the owners of legal protection. Owners are obliged not only to endure the situation in which they cannot remove the person occupying their apartment without legal title, but have also been forced to „credit” such people in the event that they do not pay fees related to the maintenance and use of the apartment. In the opinion of the Ombudsman, although he does not question the very idea of limiting eviction during a pandemic, the further indefinite maintenance of such a broadly defined ban on eviction from residential premises may be contrary to constitutional values (Article 64 (3) in conjunction with Article 31 (3) of the Polish Constitution.
The Commissioner for Human Rights asked the Prime Minister to take a position on the matter and present legislative changes taking into account the realities of the rental market and the issues of property rights.