At the end of the past year, the Moldovan Parliament adopted the law “On condominium”. The document will take effect only in 6 months after publication, but the New Year holidays are the right time to think about the conditions in which we will have to survive in six months.
What is changing for citizens?
Everyone has become accustomed that the elections are accompanied by active attempts to appease voters. Increase in pensions and salaries, good roads, cheap mortgages and summer vacations – the news in Moldova recently has been better and better. Against this background, the beautiful word ‘condominium’ sounds barely noticeable. For the Moldovan ear, it may not be new, but it has no stable associations (except with a prosperous life in the West). Unlike the populist “Prima casa” and “Drumuri bune pentru Moldova”, the authorities prefer not to talk much about the condominiums.
And they should not – jokes about rest with a spatula are no joke now.
Under the new law, absolutely all apartment buildings in the country are becoming condominiums. This means that residential buildings and their entire infrastructure will now be owned by the residents. The shell of this pill is tempting at first glance. I think our gullible citizens have already begun to imagine how they will manage their “shares” in addition to the apartment: some part of the elevator, one and a half square meters of the flight of stairs, a meter of curb, part of the pavement (which is necessarily without holes), basement corner, attic and seat on their favorite bench. Moreover, it allows to control the development of the yard and theoretically even earn extra money from a paid parking lot.
However, there is an opportunity and there is an obligation, and the devil, as usual, is in the details. In particular, the law imposes an obligation to keep all the said good in good condition, to equip and repair at own expense. Without forgetting that specially trained people from local governments will closely monitor these processes.
Simply put, the authorities with a deft movement have shifted the overwhelming asset of a hopelessly outdated housing stock on to strong, tense shoulders of citizens. The scheme is as follows: within the time limits established by law, apartment owners should hold a general meeting, select a condominium management form, appoint a manager and agree on the amount of contributions to the Repair and Development Fund. Maybe it’s good that the neighbors finally get to know each other not only by sight. On the other hand, it seems that the very first meeting will become the ground for long-term domestic conflicts and quarreling residents: the level of well-being of our citizens is very different.
And they better live as friends. All decisions under the new law are made by a majority vote. This means that the neighbors can come to terms and add rules to the condominium’s regulations: do not park in certain areas, keep a single cat and do not walk dogs on the lawn.
Another problem is that according to the new law “the owner is obliged to pay contributions, obligatory payments established at the common meeting, to pay other common expenses”. As it is easy to understand, being abroad or meager income is no excuse. You cannot pay – sell your share.
Take it before it falls apart
The Moldovan housing stock is not just star [means ‘old’ in Russian], it is superstar. According to some data, only in Chisinau 80% of residential buildings are depreciated and require urgent repair of engineering networks and roofing. The situation with the organizations responsible for the repair is awful – the vast majority of housing offices is nearly bankrupt (for example, in Chisinau – 22 out of 23) and has huge debts to service providers. Having brought the situation to the extreme, the authorities “invented” condos, into which they can forcibly “drive” the tenants and hang on them the renovation of houses. From the point of view of officials, the move really looks creative – they got rid of the problem and of the popular discontent associated with it. Previously, they complained about the bad work of housing offices, now they can only complain about themselves.
Moldovans have already got the picture. KP.MD has become a platform for the emotional outpouring of one of them:
“Imagine the apartment buildings of the 60s, 70s, 80s of the last century – elevators, roofs, water supply and sewage, electrics – all this has not been repaired for the DECADES, complete deterioration, their maintenance, repair and replacement cost huge money, who will pay for all this? Tenants? If half of the apartments are empty (people are working abroad), what about retirees, the unemployed, etc.? They will not pay – they have no money to pay! And who will? Good uncles from Brussels? I strongly doubt ... As a result, we will witness the emergence at former Soviet neighborhoods of real ghettos, with a destroyed infrastructure and a corresponding way of life – the Moldovan kind of the New York “Harlem” ...”.
It is not at all funny if we recall that Moldova is located in a seismically active zone and the condition of the housing stock is a safety issue. Back in 2014, the Regulation on Technical Inventory and Certification of Residential Houses was approved. This work requires serious money and, of course, for today things have not moved an inch. Now, Moldovan lawmakers conveniently obliged condominiums to pay for it, and this, according to some estimates, is about 10 thousand lei. As a result, low-income Moldovans will have to take loans to maintain housing seismic resistance or quietly wait for a recurrence of the 1986 earthquake.
Obviously, the law will significantly affect the real estate market. Until now, small one-room and two-room apartments in the secondary housing sector have enjoyed steady demand. But a significant increase in the cost of maintaining the old housing stock with the adjacent territory will lead to a natural withdrawal of demand towards new buildings. Despite the programs of preferential mortgage lending, the number of people willing to move from rental housing to their own is likely to decrease. It is logical to expect increase in the rent.
But there must be something positive? There is. Private property becomes a little more touchable – the law prescribes conditions for access to private apartments, and also prohibits endangering the common property and property of another owner. After the tragic events on Ryshkanovka, the possibility of detecting violations of the illegally installed gas cylinders will be an advantage.
This brings me to sad conclusions. The authorities again showed their true face and attitude to ordinary citizens of the country. “Good roads and salaries” are all products of the election time, where all of them are likely to remain. But condos are now with us for a long time. Whoever wins the election, any authority would hardly refuse such a convenient law. It remains only to guess what the next urgent problem officials will try to solve at the expense of ordinary people.