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"Communal Awareness"

Are you the owner of the apartment or the owner of the house?

According to statistics, in Belarus more than 90% of all housing is privately owned. Everything is clear as far as the owners of private houses are concerned: they completely own the entire building, the land, and they are responsible for the walls of the building, its roofing, engineering networks, etc. As for the owners of apartments in blocks of flats, everything is much more complicated. In such buildings there will be at least two apartments that belong to different people. Actually, this gives rise to the concept of joint house ownership. In the Housing Code, the concept of joint ownership is defined as the legal relationship between two or more property owners. Let's try to understand in more detail what is particularly meant by such property.

“By a house most people understand just four walls in the apartment, sometimes a part of the vestibule for storing the necessary things (bicycle, potato box, etc.), which, by the way, is prohibited by fire regulations,” says the Head of the Housing Management Department of the Ministry of Housing and Communal Services Andrei Romashko. “Proving their rightness, they show the documents for the apartment, where it is clearly written that these square meters belong to them. However no square meters can be in the air, let us say, at the level of the third or the fifth floor. Therefore, the law contains the concept of joint home ownership or common property of a residential building. In plain words, common property includes the entrance, and all the water supply networks, electricity, heating, elevators, the roof of the attic, the basement of the apartment building, which belong to the apartment owners, and they are responsible for their safety and maintenance”.

- Yes, but I can point to my apartment with my finger, but how can I know which part of the entrance is mine?

- The share of each tenant in the total property is determined as a percentage: the area of ​​the apartment is divided by the sum of the areas of all apartments in the residential building. That is why the owners of apartments pay for maintenance and repairs in proportion to the area of ​​their apartment.

You can choose the house manager yourself

Somebody should manage the common property of the apartment house so that the house can be repaired in due time, the territory can be properly cleaned, payments for utility services can be made and charged. There are two main ways to manage joint household.

- One way is to manage the organization of developers or the partnership of owners (PO). The main principle is the possibility and even the duty of every apartment owner to participate in the management of the residential building. After all, all decisions concerning the maintenance of an apartment house, the financing of any additional services are accepted only by the general meeting of the partnership. Unfortunately, in our country this method has not yet been widely adopted due to various reasons, mainly because of the opinion of the majority of citizens that the state should be responsible for everything. Nevertheless, there do exist examples of exemplary management of the house by a partnership of owners. If the owners of the housing understand that the degree of their participation in the management of the dwelling house depends not only on the safety of their property, but also on the habitat, their mood, the result is always impressive. At the same time, the cost of maintenance of the common property in the PO is not necessarily higher than the operation of the house by a Housing and Communal Service. If the tenants do not want to organize a partnership of owners, the common property will be managed by a state organization. As a rule, this is either the Housing Maintenance and Communal Service or Housing and Communal Service of the District.

- Is it possible to organize a partnership of owners in an old house?

- Of course, it is. For this it is necessary to hold a meeting which will be attended by at least two thirds of the tenants of the house and by, a majority vote, to decide on the creation of the PO. The participants in the meeting must also decide who will be the PO Chairman (someone from the tenants of the house or a person invited from the outside), as well as to adopt the charter of the partnership. Registration in the District Administration will take several days. This does not mean that the tenants of the house will have to do the cleaning, washing and carrying out repairs themselves. It can also be done by the Housing and Communal Service, which is most often practiced today. The fact is that the tariffs for housing and communal services should all be the same for all the tenants And if the partnership or the Housing Construction Co-operative consists of one house, then it is cheaper to turn to the services of the state. There are groups of houses that are fully maintained by private people. But in Belarus there is no old house in which a partnership of owners is organized.


Should the Housing and Communal Service paint over an inscription made in the entrance?

There should be no walls with inscriptions and pictures or broken windows in the entrance. Experts of Housing and Communal Services or other organizations regularly inspect the entrances and record all the defects. Then the tenants are announced that the entrance is in need of such and such repairs. After the implementation of the repairs the tenants of the entrance receive notices on payment of housing-and-municipal services which it is indicated how much they must pay for the routine repairs..

How do you know which part of the entrance is yours and which part is your neighbor’s?

Of course, no boundary line can be drawn. But some housing and communal services are calculated on the basis of the metric area of the apartment. That is, if you have an apartment of 50 square meters, you pay less than your neighbor whose apartment is 100 square meters. For instance, you have decided to change the tile in the tambour. But how can be shared the costs for the work to be done?  The best way to do it is to take into account the area of ​​housing. Therefore, for the owners of three-room apartments the share of payment will be greater than that for the owners of one or two-room apartments. Is it possible to choose a company that will make repairs in the entrance?

Routine repairs are the main housing and communal service and it cannot be declined. This work can be implemented by both the Housing and Communal Service and other specialized organizations. When a third-party organization is involved, residents together must make the appropriate decision and independently determine the scope of work to be done, the color of the walls, etc. and notify the operating organization of their decision. In the event that they do not do this, and the entrance requires repair, the Housing and Communal Service will carry out the repairs, having previously notified the residents of the amount of work and its cost.


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