In May 2021, after both housing organizations and the ombudsman spoke out to extend the eviction moratorium, the Hungarian Government passed a decree on extending the ban on evictions and provides rules for the auctioning of real estate property. According to the new Government decree, taking action in connection with the evacuation of real estate and carrying out on-site procedural actions are only allowed after the end of the emergency situation. Similarly, the bailiff may only initiate the auction of the residential property of a natural person debtor at the earliest on the 15th day after the end of the emergency.
The current extended moratorium on evictions covers all real estates, not just residential real estate, and it also applies to all debtors, not just individuals. Previous regulations only applied to residential properties used by private individuals and only if the residents are not considered arbitrary tenants (meaning that they moved in against the will of the property owner) and have not been previously fined. As for the rules on auctions, the protected group is narrower than for the eviction moratorium. The auction moratorium only applies to natural person debtors in the event that the property to be sent to auction is a residential real estate.
The decree was welcomed; however, due to the contradictory regulation of the moratorium deadline, there was an uncertainty in civil court enforcement. The general eviction moratorium prescribed by law lasts from 15 November until 30 April, to ensure that no debtors are left without shelter during the cold winter. However, this year the Government introduced a so-called “period of tightened defense”, which, after several amendments, finally ended on 20 April 2021, and the moratorium being extended only until 4 May. On 5 May, however, the Government issued the current government decree. As the government decree came into force on the day following its promulgation, i.e. on 6 May, there was a gap of a single day left between the two regulations. On this day, i.e. on 5 May, bailiffs were able to start taking action to evict residents, which unfortunately happened in several cases.
As it can be seen from the contradictory rules and the gap, it is important to emphasize that a fair enforcement system requires clear, comprehensible, consistent and predictable legislation that takes into account the interests of both the debtor and the person requesting enforcement. As the ombudsman said, maintaining a moratorium on evictions during the time of the pandemic not only serves the protection of debtors and their immediate living environment, but is also considered public interest.