Conference of the Estonian Tenants’ Union in the National Library 20.02.2007
Statement and Decision

Conference of the Estonian Tenants’ Union
Estonian National Library, February 20th 2007


The whole world admired the Estonian nation restoring its national independence by legal means in the last decade of the twentieth century. National self-consciousness rose in the background of the Singing Revolution and the actions of the Peoples’ Front. Estonia was open for cooperation and waited for the Estonians – the Second World War refugees – to return home.

National radical political forces started restoring the legal continuity of rights with the ownership reform on so-called restitution bases not considering the reasoned objections and direct warnings of scientists and politically balanced forces. By abandoning the way of social and economical solidarity, liberalism was cut loose in its most brutal way – unbridled freedom for pursuing lucrative interests. “The state is a bad owner!” and “We help those who can help themselves!” were the main manifestations describing that period.

This conjuncture brought forward extreme cynicism towards fellow citizens in the field of housing; the social scientists evaluated the practical aspects of the reform to be schizophrenic. People entitled to restitution of their houses appeared – new owners and forced tenants, who were forfeited the possibility to privatize their legally obtained dwellings for EVP-s and whose total number was stated in Riigikogu to be about 100 000 persons. The unusual ownership reform in the European legal system brought about the declaration of ownership reform laws by the Riigikogu to be in contravention with human rights and fundamental freedoms provisions on March 13th 1996. The Principles of Ownership Reform Act § 2 subsection 2:

Return of property to or compensation of former owners or their legal successors for property in the course of ownership reform shall not prejudice the interests protected by law of other persons or cause new injustices; gives to every healthy minded person a reason to see a controversy of what happened to the Estonian Constitution and the Principles of Ownership Reform Act.

During the last 15 years, the ownership reform has created a worldwide exceptional situation in the Estonian housing field where 98% of dwellings belong to private owners and the State and local authorities have very slim opportunities to influence the rental prices on the dwelling market. For bringing about a change in this situation, it is of utmost importance to expand the relative importance of municipal rental dwellings. As a different group, there is still a distinguished concern of the future of forced tenants living in the dwellings restituted or awaiting restitution to refugees who left Estonia due to Hitler’s invitation and contracts drawn with Germany – the so-called migrants-Baltic Germans. Riigikogu, the President and Supreme Court have expressed their opinions on this matter on the highest level of their probable best recognition, but the offered solutions still remain inadequate. The State Court accepted the request of the President of the Republic and repealed the act of declaration of invalidity of § 7 subsection 3 of the Principles of Ownership Reform Act as being unconstitutional. The results of the Conference are reflected in the decision.

Conference of the Estonian Tenants’ Union
Estonian National Library, February 20th 2007

1. For the houses of migrants – Baltic Germans to prescribe:
  1) compensation payment to tenants of already restituted and resold houses consistent with market prices;
  2) denial of restitution of houses not yet restituted;
  3) abandoning of the restitution matters concerning dwellings with apartments that have been already privatized to forced tenants.
We support the statement of Tallinn City Government that no dwellings should be restituted until the State has not offered competent solutions for the future of the forced tenants living in these dwellings.

2. As of other forced tenants, whose number is far larger and whose homes’ destinies have during the previous years become disparate, simpler decisions must be implemented. For that purpose, exclusive development of forced tenants’ act must be initiated and the following matters treated:
1) tenancy contracts drawn between the subjects of the ownership reform;
2) making provisions for forced tenants who have acquired their dwellings on legal bases who lack the opportunity to privatize their homes on equal conditions with other tenants by the means of EVP-s to compensate their material losses immediately according to the current market value of the housing;
3) we insist on assimilation of forced tenants with the persons subjected to repression in the matters of social guarantees for matters regarding compensation for moral damages suffered by forced tenants .

3. Drafting of a Lease Act must be commenced to protect the interests of tenants.
The full room of participants of the Conference express the belief that the Estonian Republic can amend the injustice it has caused.