Saeima blasts Justice Ministry over land law amendments

Over 100,000 people living in apartment buildings, mostly in Riga, have to pay rent for the land under the house, owned by someone else, in addition to regular expenses. Law amendments that would help solve this problem have been adopted by the Saeima in the first, non-final reading. However the Justice Ministry, which authored the new law, has come under fierce criticism for its work, reported LTV on March 8.

On Wednesday the Saeima designated Viktors Valainis (Unity) as responsible for the matter. He lambasted the proposed law and offered his own solutions, including that the state could offer credit guarantees for buying the land back or buy it back should the residents be unwilling to do so. 

Meanwhile the Justice Ministry rebuked criticism saying that Valainis' proposals are financially unsound. 

However the law has been criticized even from within party lines. Speaking to LTV, MP Jānis Dombrava, also from National Alliance, criticized the ministry's proposals as disregarding the interests of the people.

Valainis said that the law doesn't provide for situations where the land below apartment buildings is owned by several people; furthermore, it underestimates the projected expenses for the state; and favors landowners rather than residents.

The Justice Ministry defended itself in saying that the law deals with a very complex situation and has been written so that it has as little effect as possible on the state budget.

Meanwhile Valainis claimed that landowners could turn to the Constitutional Court should the amendments be adopted in present form; the Justice Ministry however says that the law is in fact based on the right to a home, which is a constitutional right.

A total 3,677 apartment buildings with a total 110,000 flats are currently thought to be affected.

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