Living in a historical building of a European city may be something only a few people can afford. However, Brno has made it more accessible and is benefiting both the tenants and the council.
Not only does Brno rent classical houses for an affordable price, but the occupants can also renovate the buildings as if they were owners.
The pilot offers ten last-century apartments in the initial phase. “If there is enough interest from the citizens, we will allow the whole project to continue during 2022 and the following years,” says Jan Mandát, a Brno Centre District Council Member and the project’s initiator.
Behind the walls
The apartments available respond to various sizes, antiquity, and locations to meet different needs. Dimensions go from 60 to 120 square meters, and sites can be as excellent as the pedestrian zones in the heart of the Czech town.
Most of the stock the council manages can be considered historic houses. Other flats are also available for renting in edifices built during the 19th century, early 20th and post-WWII.
Adapting those ancient houses to modern life parameters require deep renovation works. Those interested in renting can adjust flats according to their needs, and at the same time, save the city the costs of reconstruction of the housing stock.
This method allows Brno to invest the budget for repairs in renovating other flats or entire houses that serve different needs, and renters can enjoy an affordable home in the city centre.
The construction history
In the past, the city tried out other similar initiatives. One of them allowed renters to repair complete devastated apartments. However, this entitled deep construction works eventually resulted in a complex task for tenants, and in some cases, even ended up in legal disputes.
“After a break of several years, when only repaired flats were rented, we decided to allow those interested in repairing according to their requirements,” says Mandát.
The project currently in place only allows for the completion of repairs and not overhauls of the entire apartment. Before the dwellers move in, the council now performs the initial part of the more complex reconstruction works. The residents will then complete the job according to their ideas and needs.
Brno will redeem 50% of the agreed rent every month from the recognized amount for reconstruction. When the residents regain their entire investment, they will receive a contract of indefinite duration.
The selection process
The city of Brno holds a large housing stock. Only the city centre district manages over 4,000 flats, from small studios to above-standard accommodations of over 150 square meters.
In addition to the so-called ordinary municipal flats, the city also manages social houses for vulnerable groups, start-up flats for young families and rooms in nursing homes for the elderly.
In this project, the procedure for choosing an occupant follows the exact requirements for the standard social housing stock selection, set by the city council. Municipal flats in Brno are intended for persons who do not own housing property, which is the same for this project.
According to Mandát, several facts are also considered in the selection process for the historical buildings —whether the apartment is adequate for the applicants, whether they come with their family, or whether they face a vulnerable situation.
In addition to those requirements, applicants should receive sufficient taxable incomes to complete the reconstruction.