The residents of Kopli 87a sent a joint petition to several institutions, pointing out that RKAS planned to charge them market rent despite the very poor initial condition of their building. In addition, utility bills are calculated by the square meter, making it difficult for families to control their own expenses.
The Tallinn City Council and the Ministry of Social Affairs received the petition. In addition, Deputy Mayor of Tallinn Betina Beškina wrote to Social Welfare Minister Signe Riisalo (Reform) to tell him that such a decision was not justified.
“Rental rates were determined by State Real Estate Ltd. based on current market rental rates. This is understandable, but not in the case of Kopli 87a, as city council workers who assisted refugees attest that the building was initially in a deplorable condition. Rent should be determined by the condition of the units when the refugees moved in, renovations already carried out by the tenants, and the general condition of the building, its energy efficiency rating and real living conditions,” Beškina said.
RKAS Director of Administrative Services Karel Aasrand told ERR that the drafting of rental contracts and determination of price levels were based on an April 14 proposal made by the Ministry of Social Affairs to the government, which stipulates that Rental costs should be determined in relation to rents for similar accommodations.
“That was the basis for the quoted price and the terms and conditions of the contract,” he said.
Aasrand added that, at the suggestion of RKAS, discussions are underway with the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Social Affairs to find a solution to this problem. In addition, RKAS is awaiting responses as to whether new solutions will be introduced and what the final terms of the lease should then be.
“Otherwise, more confusion could arise in such a sensitive matter as refugee housing. sign a long-term lease as quickly and smoothly as possible,” said RKAS’s Director of Administration.
Karin Veskimae, communications officer at the Ministry of Social Affairs, said the ministry did not understand RKAS’s pricing policy for this particular building. She noted that state-owned buildings are not typical rental properties; these are generally not rented.
“The Department’s position is that when setting rent prices, it is important to take into account rental rates for comparable accommodation, the costs associated with renting and whether the owner of particular spaces does not provide premises than for utility costs. Obviously, it is also reasonable to take into account renovations already carried out by tenants,” she said.
The ministry indicates that, comparable to the apartment building Kopli 87a, there would be social and municipal housing. This means that RKAS should charge a fee sufficient to cover only the expenses related to the management of the apartment.
“We have reiterated to RKAS that the prices offered so far are too high for the refugees and furthermore this price range violates the sense of justice of the volunteers who contributed to these solutions. RKAS is now in charge of adjust rents,” Veskimae said, and added that “installation of water and electricity meters for fair distribution of utility costs is reasonable; this can be agreed between the landlord and property manager. ‘building”.
She also added that the decision to involve the RKAS in finding accommodation for refugees was taken by the government on 21 April.
In response to Beškina’s concern that the war refugees residing in the Kopli 87a apartment building have not received enough information and need further explanation of their obligations and rights, Veskimae said crisis specialists from the Social Insurance Board are available daily to discuss these issues with residents of the buildings on Maepealse and Kopli streets.
However, the rights and responsibilities associated with the use of the building must be described in the lease.