Baku/26.07.22/Turan: A paradoxical situation has occurred in Azerbaijan when the state is not going to interfere: Soviet housing and maintenance offices (HMO), which are not provided for by law, remain and operate, while housing and construction cooperatives (HCC) manage other residential apartment buildings in parallel with them. There is the Housing Code that allows residents of privatized apartments to throw off the burden of inefficient housing and communal services, to hold elections and create their own management companies so as not to be deceived by outsiders. However, residents are indignant, complain about the arbitrariness of housing and communal services. The latter have built houses in which apartment owners live, and these same construction companies illegally manage the household. But people do not want to take advantage of the legitimate opportunity to choose economic managers from their environment or hire a management company that can be controlled. As a result, there are housing and communal services which manage houses they have built, forcing residents to agree to an unreasonable increase in fees for services (garbage collection, payment for household workers, elevator, garage use).

It is worth reminding that Independent economist, member of the Board of the Public Association for Promotion of Economic Initiatives Samir Aliyev published an analytical report "Arbitrariness of housing and communal services in terms of defenseless private property" (müdafiəsizqalmış özəl mülkiyyətdə MTK özbaşınalığı)

Housing and communal services are not specified in the Azerbaijani laws, these structures are illegal, so many Azerbaijanis do not pay housing and communal services, since the owners pay for the repair of their apartments themselves. And the wages of janitors and garbage collection services, which are collected in housing and communal services, are overstated.

Note that HCC are recognized in the Housing Code as participants in housing relations. Section 5 of the Code regulates the organization and activities of HCC and the legal status of HCC members.

According to Article 109 of HCC, housing and construction cooperatives are a form of voluntary, based on the association of individuals and (or) legal entities for the purpose of construction and (or) reconstruction of buildings by combining the property share contributions of their members, as well as the management of residential and non-residential premises in a cooperative building.

Note that HCCs are created for a certain period, it is not a permanent structure, S. Aliev notes. A month after the delivery of the newly built residential building to the state regulatory authorities, HCC is obliged to leave this building, transferring management to the residents provided that more than half of the apartment owners have privatized them (Article 109.5.). Apartment owners create a joint housing owners society or transfer the management of the building to a private company at their discretion.

Article 141 of the Housing Code provides that the owners of premises in an apartment building are required to choose one of the following ways of managing the building:

- Direct management of the building by the owners of the site;

- Management of the joint society of homeowners or a specialized consumer cooperative;

- Management of the managing organization.

The advantage of this mechanism is that the residents of the building take an active part in management, being involved not only in the decision-making process, but also in the execution process.

As for the management of the building by the management company, the demand for these companies is low due to the high cost of services.

In any case, all 3 forms of management call for the liquidation of the housing and communal services, - said S. Aliyev.

But they continue to manage the houses they have built. The economist listed the disadvantages of such management:

- High maintenance fee for the apartment or its periodic increase without taking into account the opinion of residents;

- Restriction of utilities due to non-payment or delay in payment of services (termination of the supply of electricity, natural gas, drinking water, etc. to the apartment));

- In spite of the fact meters required by law for the use of utilities (electricity, natural gas, and drinking water) are free for the public, HBC charge residents for the purchase and installation of meters;

- Creation of artificial barriers before the privatization of apartments by its owners;

- Prevention of the creation of a joint society of homeowners, the creation and management of which is provided by the owners of housing;

- Illegal sale of an apartment in a house to several persons. There are about 11.000 multi-apartment residential buildings on the balance sheet of the Department of Housing and Communal Services of the city of Baku. Independent real estate experts in private conversations report 30-35.000 apartment buildings across the country. Approximately 2000-2500 units of these buildings are managed by HCC. According to the Ministry of Economy, up to 250 joint societies of homeowners have been created with the support of the Ministry. In the 13 years since the adoption of the Housing Code, there should have been tens of thousands of these structures.

Samir Aliyev sees the root of the problem not in the laws, but in the state's ignorance of its violations. For example, Article 393-1 of the Code of Administrative Offences provides for fines when violating the rules of housing legislation. So, if HCC is not liquidated within a month provided for by law, or a decision is not made to transform into a joint company of homeowners, then a fine of 2000 manat will be imposed on officials, and 5000 manat on legal entities.

However, there are hundreds of housing and communal services that have not handed over their powers to residents. They continue to work the old-fashioned way, they are not fined. In addition, officials are fined in the amount of 300-800 manats, legal entities - 1000-2000 manats for obstructing the choice of the method of managing an apartment building in line with the procedure established by the Housing Code. This mechanism is inactive either.

HBC is not interested in transforming into a Joint Housing Owners Society, even worse it creates various artificial obstacles in order not to give power to tenants. The subjects responsible for administrative fines provided for violation of housing legislation are the Ministry and local executive authorities," Samir Aliyev notes.

Note that local law enforcement agencies are interested in cooperation with housing and communal services, and do not even refuse illegal housing and communal services. Thus, the vicious circle of management of residential buildings by structures in which residents are not represented persists with the interest of local authorities.-0-

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