Commentary

Council Housing Fire Sale to Fidesz Politicians’ Families

Anett was young an ambitious. Recently graduated, she had a dream: she wanted to buy a home.

She is not alone with that dream. Budapest has a property boom and recent graduates rarely buy homes – unless they are the daughter and son-in-law of the prime minister. But then they buy a million euro home on their anniversary, so that’s a different breed.

For the rest of us there is only saving and waiting. Or is it?

Anett was in a tight spot indeed. But luckily for her, her uncle could help. He didn’t have the money – he had something better: he was the treasurer of Budapest’s 9th district council. And Budapest’s 9th district had council properties.

Budapest’s 9th district also has over 1500 people on waiting list for council flats – but that didn’t stop each and every Fidesz politician locally to receive an apartment or two if they so wished. And wish they did.

444.hu went after the district’s housing corruption (see video above) and documented many cases such as Anett’s. 444.hu followed the gossip on the street – in other words, what everyone knew – that the house of 66 Tűzoltó Street is populated increasingly by Fidesz cronies of the local council. Not only did they get indefinite rental contracts on the newly renovated house (that happens to have a penthouse) but they immediately called their buy options at half the market price. But even that wasn’t cheap enough for them, so they made sure that the “market price” that formed the basis of their tenant’s buy option would be a joke.

Then, for half of half of the actual market price, they were allowed to buy. Now, if you follow the widening of the wage/housing price gap, you might suspect that a young professional might still be outpriced. Not in Fidesz-circles though when friendly court banks always rush to the rescue of stranded cronies – and lend them the mortgage they need.

But if you believe their ambition was this low you should be mistaken.

After the purchase of the property they quickly put it back on the market – but this time for the actual market price – repay their mortgage before it could gather interests, and move on with their lives to more fancy districts. After all, such financial talent might even set their eyes on more prestigious, Buda neighborhoods. Or just lay their nest egg in Western countries where property is safer and the economy is not a Patomkin facade.

Others didn’t even need a mortgage.

444.hu cites the example of Gábor Balázs Klekner who purchased a 70-square-meter apartment from the council for approx. EUR 25000 in a neighborhood where similar-sized apartments cost four times as much. The council gave Klekner until 2030 to pay for the flat. Shortly thereafter, he resold the flat to the company owned by the chairman of the district’s asset management company, István Takács.

A few streets further, Brigitta Weiszgáber purchased a 60-square-meter council flat for EUR 25000 also with a 2030 payment deadline. Weiszgáber immediately put the apartment up for sale and sold it for about EUR 100000.

This year Weiszgáber alsowon the right to rent a council-owned, three-room, 98-square-meter rooftop apartment in a recently renovated house for an indefinite period. Otherwise, Weiszgáber’s permanent residence is a villa in the prestigious Buda Hills area.

HírTV interviewed district mayor János Bácskai. To the question of whether he thinks that is all right that Fidesz politicians receive council apartments way below market prices, while some 1500 families are waiting for social housing Bácskai simply said “yes.”

Because that’s how we roll these days. Politicians on every level don’t even flinch anymore. Why would they? The government sets the tone by having stopped paying attention to court rulings – both in the country and in Brussels.

The mayor added that families who cannot afford to pay 60 months of rent in advance for those apartments that the council lends “on market basis” will have to wait until more council property is renovated, which will happen “in the next 30 years.”

The Budapest district 9 prosecutor’s office started an investigation with the suspicion of misappropriation of funds in February 2017.

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Featured photo: The mayor’s best friend’s Audi outside of the 9th district council – Ács Dániel 444.hu

 

 

 

 

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