Russian Duma extended free privatization of housing until March 1, 2017. This extension allows residents of the state-owned apartments to become home owners for free, Lenta.ru reports. The own-your-home-for-free scheme was supposed to be finalized in 2016. The scheme started in 1990s after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
All apartments in Russia used to be state-owned. After the Perestroika, residents were offered to get the apartments into their ownership free of charge. However, not everyone jumped on the opportunity to become a home owner. Some people still live in state-owned apartments while their neighbours own their properties. Isn’t it strange that some people refuse to get their hands on tens of thousands of dollars worth of real estate?
Privatization in Russia
According to the Russian State Register, about 20% of the Russian property assets still need to be transferred from the state to private ownership.
Free home privatization began in Russia in 1992 after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Since then it had been extended 4 times but still hasn’t been fully completed.
There are still categories of people that live in an unsafe or emergency accommodation, which cannot be privatized. Usually their rehousing takes several years. After being allocated a new home, they need to apply to register their private ownership. It’s one of the reasons why the program is still incomplete.
Some citizens do not wish to privatize the properties because they do not want to take additional financial burdens such as:
- Paying the property tax, which has risen significantly this year.
- Paying monthly contribution for repairs (sinking fund) — the owners have to pay for renovations out of their own pocket, while the state pays for the real estate it owns.
Sometimes people have other obstacles. For example, an apartment could only be privatized with the consent of every resident of the apartment. If someone does not want to do that, it cannot not be privatized.
The state is unable to ask the residents to leave. If the apartment has been allocated to them, they have the right to live there until they die. They also have the right to add more residents: wives, husbands, kids, even distant relatives, if the person in the department of registrations is sufficiently bribed. As such, there is no end to subsidising the cost of living for people who refuse to become responsible for the property they live in.
Russians hope that this extension will be the last.
Russians have to privatize their homes before the deadline, otherwise they will have to live in the municipal housing forever. Such accommodation cannot be sold, donated or inherited.
But while registering new residents at government-owned properties is lawful, it may be hard to force people to become responsible. The registered inhabitants cannot be forced out, even if the apartment was initially allocated to someone else. This is how Russians manage to avoid paying for maintenance of their apartments but still leave them to their kids.
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