Szatmár mayor slaps punitive tax on owners of neglected buildings

Last Thursday night the frontage of a hotel fell down to a street in downtown of Szatmárnémeti/Satu Mare. Fortunately nobody was hurt, but as a result city authorities announced that everybody must start the renovation of neglected buildings in the city center before the 30th of November. Otherwise they will have to face with a 500% extra tax. Residents’ opinions are divided about the news.

Many people agree with the intention to improve the condition of the downtown buildings, but most of them also complain that the owners cannot pay the extra taxes, and the renovation costs either. What is certain is that the disrepair of the historic buildings in the town has been a problem for a long time. Szatmár County prefect, Radu Bud stated already in 2016, that: “we can hardly find any other town in Romania, where the historic buildings are in such poor condition.”

Hotel Front
The frontage of a hotel fell down in the night of 12th September in Szatmárnémeti. Fortunately nobody got hurt, but the incident has consequences. (Photo: szatmar.ro)

Szatmárnémeti mayor Gábor Kereskényi told news portal transindex.ro that the city council has made the decision unanimously about the extra tax back in January 2017. According to Kereskényi the council conducted building inspections before the summer of 2018: By virtue of the regulation, site visits took place, and detailed photo documentation was also made. Then the owners of the neglected buildings received written notices in which they were called to start the renovation of the buildings’ frontage”, the mayor said.

Kereskényi stated last year in another interview that, “Following the practice of Nagyvárad/Oradea – where many frontages have been already renovated – we will also help those owners, who need our help in the preparing the renovation process.” According to the above, the restoration works must have been already started – transindex.ro writes.

Similar decision seems to be effective in Kolozsvár/ Cluj-Napoca

A similar decision was also subject to criticisms when it was launched in Kolozsvár, but as a results it can be said that in the last three years many historical buildings’ frontages have been renovated in the city center. According to the city council of Kolozsvár, more than 1500 buildings were inspected, and the authorities charged the extra tax in the case of 100 real estates. Almost 320 buildings were fully or partly renovated by their owners, but in most cases only the frontage got fixed.

Title image: Building inspections at the end of 2017 in Szatmárnémeti (Photo: szatmar.ro)

Author: Attila Szoó