Threatened evictions of Roma in Hungary

03 October 2000

On August 22, 2000, according to the Roma Press Center, fifteen government owned flats in Budapest's thirteenth district, complete with unlawful tenants, were sold by auction, immediately after a five-year central government ban on the sale of municipal social rental units had elapsed. At least ten of the flats were occupied by Romani squatters. The district municipal property management department reportedly stated that this auction was a test; if successful, further flats, also occupied by squatters, would be sold. Flats were sold for up to four million Hungarian forints (approximately 15,300 euros); most of them lack toilets and bathrooms and have arrears in rent and utilities. It is the responsibility of the new owners to evict the squatters. Ms H.S. is a Romani mother of two who has illegally occupied a flat for three years, and has always paid the bills on time. Now the flat has been sold, and she is threatened with imminent eviction. According to the local government of the thirteenth district, there are court orders for all of the families to be evicted, but the families claim that they have not received any court orders.

It is currently estimated that there are between two and six thousand squatters living illegally in flats in Budapest. Non-governmental organisations report that many of these are Roma. Romani families have been among the first to get evicted, and recent legislation relating to squatters and unlawful tenants in effect since May 2000 allows a notary public to order an eviction without seeking permission of a court. Squatters can now be expelled from housing without recourse to a suspensive appeal.

(Roma Press Center)


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