State loses case against landowners

The state has lost a case against the landowners who receive rent from people who own apartments on their land, LTV reported April 12. 

This type of ownership, called shared property, under Latvian law allows the landowners to receive a fixed percentage of the assessed value of the land from the people who own real estate on their property.

The Constitutional Court said that the parliament, when it last year introduced a law that would gradually limit the rent money for such properties, did not sufficiently justify why the change was necessary. 

Therefore, the said law will lose force in May 2019. 

A similar case was brought to the Constitutional Court in 2009, when the parliament had introduced similar limits, and in that case too the court ruled in favor of the landowners. Last year the Saeima put the matter on the agenda again, but landowners turned to the Constitutional Court, objecting against the change.

About 100,000 people who own apartments across the country have to pay rent to people who own the land under their homes. According to data by the State Land Service, about 10% of this land is owned by its historic owners, but the rest have been acquired in business deals, suggesting that landowners may have bought up swaths of land covered with buildings with rent money on their mind.

Indeed, such schemes have been likened to the practice of German barons, a landowning class during the time when native Latvians were subdued to serfdom, hence a chief organization representing the interests of the people who own the apartments, as opposed to the land, is called Tauta pret zemes baroniem or "The people against land barons". 

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