TALLINN – Parliament on Tuesday passed amendments to the Housing Act that abolish the rent ceilings despite the president's veto two weeks earlier.
The controversial amendments were backed by two ruling parties – Res Publica and the Reform Party – and the oppositionist right-wing Pro Patria Union, while the third ruling faction, the People’s Party, voted against.
The amendments were adopted without change, and now the president must promulgate them or turn to the Supreme Court for a ruling on their constitutionality.
President Arnold Ruutel had refused to promulgate the amendments on the basis that they failed to consider the difficulties with which many apartment renters might face if forced to move due to high rents.
The amendments concern all restituted apartment buildings in which original ownership was restored after Estonia gained independence. For years the owners were forced to kept rents at certain level in various cities. In Tallinn, for instance, owners could charge no more than 15 kroons (0.96 euro) per square meter per month.
As of Wednesday it was still unclear what action Ruutel would take, but many lawmakers were urging him to take the matter to court.
“When there are so big differences between opinions in the society, why not ask the opinion of the Supreme Court,” Jaanus Mannik, head of the People's Union faction told the Eesti Paevaleht daily. “We agree with the president's arguments and consider them to be legally so strong that the law cannot be adopted in its present form.”