Brno launches fixer-upper pilot project for more affordable flats

The Czech Republic’s second city is offering rental apartments on the cheap for those willing to repair them at their own expense.

Expats.cz Staff

Written by Expats.cz Staff Published on 05.01.2022 12:55:00 (updated on 05.01.2022) Reading time: 2 minutes

The Czech Republic’s problem with affordable housing is well-known. Prague is one of Europe’s most unaffordable cities, as spiraling real estate prices far outstrip wage growth. Many people are now seeking alternatives, such as living in cheaper areas within commuting distance of large urban centers. Competition on the rental market is meanwhile fierce due to competition from short-term rentals.

Now, the central authority of Brno, the Czech Republic’s second city, is launching a new pilot scheme to try to make property in the city more affordable. Brno-střed is offering apartments in the historic city for rent on the condition that tenants repair the apartments themselves. The amount spent in renovating the flats can then be deducted from the rent.

Ten flats have so far been offered within the scheme, and those interested can apply until the end of January. As well as providing a chance for cheaper accommodation, the scheme is also an opportunity to live affordably in some of Brno’s most desirable city center spots. Despite a prime location, the apartments are not currently an attractive proposition due to their state of disrepair.

“We would like to offer tenants the opportunity to finish the apartments according to their own ideas,” said Kateřina Dobešová, a spokesperson for the local city authorities. “They will equip the bathroom in their own way, adjust the floors, install panels and doors according to their taste.”

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The town hall will provide help with the heavier works required to get flats in a livable condition, such as plumbing and electricity works, any necessary demolition and plastering. But everything else will be up to the tenants. To ensure that extravagant renovations are not undertaken as a way of claiming an unreasonable amount of money in rent deductions, tenants will not be allowed to exceed CZK 2,500 per square for renovation works.

The city is considering offering a further 10 flats within the scheme depending on initial interest.

“We will evaluate whether the scheme is of interest, and whether applicants are able to repair the apartments in the way we imagine, at a high quality,” said Dobešová.

The scheme will offer insights into how far people are willing to go to get a cheap rent in the Czech Republic. There is no guarantee, for example, that sufficient numbers of people will be interested in investing their time as well as money into the renovation of an apartment which they do not own.

Still, in the context of the Czech Republic’s troubled real estate market, Brno’s fixer-upper plan could be an effective way of revitalizing prime city center spots. For those keen to live in a great location, looking to save money, and happy to get their hands dirty, the scheme could be a win-win.

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