ERRC Initiates Legal Action in Czech Republic on the Right to Adequate Housing
29 July 2004
On May 12, 2004, the ERRC, to-gether with local lawyer Jaroslav Poredský, filed a legal complaint on behalf of Mr Imrich Polák, a 53-year-old Romani man, and his family against RTV-5 Ltd., a private company of which Mr Zdenek Dolezel is the secretary, asking that the conditions of their flat be improved. Since November 1992 when they signed a lease contract for an undetermined period with the Municipality of Mr Zdenìk Dolezel is the secretary, asking that the conditions of their flat be improved. Since November 1992 when they signed a lease contract for an undetermined period with the Municipality of Bøeclav for a low standard social flat, Mr Polák, his wife Blažena, their three children and grandchild have lived in their current home. On June 3, 2002, the municipality sold the building to Mr Dolezel, who declared in the sales contract that he “is aware of the fact that the flat is leased by the Poláks […] and that he has acquired the house with all the rights and duties stemming from the relationship lesser-tenant […].” On July 19, 2002, Mr Dolezel sold the property to RTV-5 Ltd.
According to Mr Polák, Mr Dolezel promised not to increase the rent. However, at the end of October 2003, he presented the tenants of the building with new rental contracts ending on Octo-ber 31, 2004, which stated, "After the period expires, the tenants promise to leave the flat without compensation. […] Should the tenants use the flat after the pe-riod has expired and should the lesser not file a complaint against them with the court ordering them to leave the flat within 30 days, the contract shall be prolonged by 1 year, with a rent 5 times the amount stipulated in the current contract." Mr Polák stated that although Mr Dolezel threatened to evict any families who do not sign the new contracts, his family re-fused to sign.
Since the family refused to sign the new contract, in November 2003, Mr Dolezel stopped the sup-ply of electricity and running wa-ter to the flat though the family had paid their bills. Skinheads have also reportedly attacked their home on five separate occasions though there had never been a problem previously. Mr Polák re-ported that during the attacks, groups of skinheads shout curses about their Romani ethnicity and have broken windows in their home with stones. The police have been called and the perpetrators have in one instance been caught but released without charge. The Poláks also informed the ERRC that Mr Dolezel occasionally stops his car in front of their house and spits. The Polák family fears they will be made homeless if evicted, because they cannot afford more expensive housing.
On April 21, 2004, Mr Polák filed a complaint with the local prosecutor, alleging that Mr Dolezel was not respecting their contract or providing adequate living conditions. On May 31, 2004, the local prosecutor found that Mr Dolezel had not committed any crime and recommended that Mr Polák pursue a civil case. As of the date this edition went to press, there had been no response to the complaint filed against RTV-5 Ltd. (ERRC)