Protected tenants in private apartments in Croatia: Implementation of the ECHR judgments
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Protected tenants in private apartments in Croatia: Implementation of the ECHR judgments

3 min.

The Croatian parliament has adopted a solution to the problem of protected tenants in private apartments, based on the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). This means that owners can receive compensation and reclaim their apartments. The deadlines for this expire in April 2025. The Ecovis experts in Zagreb explain the details of the decision.

On 14 March 2024, the Croatian parliament passed a law to implement the ECHR rulings in the group of cases Statileo v. Croatia and the decisions of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Croatia.

The problem of protected tenants in private apartments has been around for more than 70 years. These tenants were given occupancy rights in privately owned apartments by the Yugoslavian communist government. These rights ended in 1996 and were replaced by the then newly introduced instrument of protected tenancy (s. box).

Entitlement to ownership vs protected tenancy

The issue centres around the fact that the former state of Yugoslavia previously confiscated private real estate and handed it to random people to live in. From 1996, the government began returning the property but it could not simply move out thousands of families. Owners were required to maintain the properties but were unable to live in, rent or sell them, while the tenants were required to pay a protected, symbolic rent of ca. EUR 100/month.

In 2014, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) decided that property owners must be compensated and paid the difference between the market value and the protected rent. The state was also required to resolve the issue once and for all. Previously, compensation was only given to owners if they sued the state individually. The act provides compensation without the need to sue, as well as providing options to tenants.

Who exactly are the protected tenants and the owners?

The dilemma of whether owners could obtain any kind of compensation for the restriction of their property rights was resolved on several occasions by the ECHR, who ruled in favour of the owners. The most important such judgment was passed in 2014 in the case of Statileo v. Croatia.

In 2018, the law on renting apartments was amended. The amendment provided a transitional period after which protected tenants would have to leave the apartments. However, the disputed provisions of that law were annulled by Croation Constitutional Court. The situation has remained unresolved until now.

We support you to regain your property back or asserting your claims.
Ema Kalogjera Juranić, Attorney at law, HAČIĆ & KALOGJERA JURANIĆ Law Firm Ltd.*, Zagreb, Croatia

The significance of the law for the rights of owners

This act provides a final solution to the problem of protected tenants and enables the owners to regain their property.

The act foresees three possible ways for owners to regain their property:

  1. If the owners and tenants agree, the tenant waives the protected tenant status and becomes a regular tenant who pays the market rent.
  2. The state pays the protected tenant a fee, they waive the protected tenant status, vacate the property and return it to the owner.
  3. The owner can sell the property to the state for the market value. The State then grants the protected tenant the right to buy the property at favourable price.

In addition, property owners are entitled to compensation for the non-material damage suffered since 1996. This compensation is EUR 0.01 EUR (1 eurocent) per square metre of property used by the tenants per day, starting from 1996 until 1 January 2025, after which the owners will be entitled to the market rent.

It is important to note that the deadline for owners to submit notification of the chosen method of return expires on 30 April 2025.

The deadline for applying for compensation for non-material damage expires on 15 April 2025 and this deadline is preclusive.

For further information please contact:

Ema Kalogjera Juranić, Attorney at law, HAČIĆ & KALOGJERA JURANIĆ Law Firm Ltd.*, Zagreb, Croatia

*In cooperation with ECOVIS L+C Rechtsanwaltsgesellschaft mbH

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Ema Kalogjera Juranić
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10000 Zagreb
Phone: +385 1 4880 346