STA, 12 June 2019 - In a bid to improve the status of tenants but also landlords, the opposition Left (Levica) has filed a bill to limit commissions for renting real estate and costs which real estate agencies can charge to their clients.
The changes to the law on real estate agencies, which bring commission limits similar to those in place for real estate sales, were submitted to parliament on Wednesday, the Left said in today's press release.
Tenants would no longer have to pay commissions for services provided by a real estate agency which was hired by the landlord.
Landlords would benefit from a cap on commissions that can be charged by apartment rental agencies; the capped amount would correspond to one monthly rent, but would not go lower than 150 euro.
The Left believes tenants in apartments rented out at market prices should benefit the most since they will no longer have to pay commission for the services they have not commissioned and since landlords would be encouraged to rent out their apartments for longer periods.
MP Matej T. Vatovec said the bill was harmonised with the Ministry of the Environment and Spatial Planning and endorsed by coalition representatives, so the Left expected it to be passed in parliament.
However, even if such changes are set down in a deal between the government coalition and the opposition party which supports the government, coalition MPs did not contribute their signatures.
"The coalition's decision to support the bill or not [in parliament] will show whether it is serious about cooperation with the Left, and will also serve as the basis to decide how to proceed cooperation-wise," Vatovec was quoted in the release as saying.
STA, 10 June 2019 - After a two-year dispute on the sale of land for the planned Tobačna City development in Ljubljana, the Higher Court has ruled that the owner of a tiny part of the land will be able to buy the entire complex as the holder of the pre-emptive right.
The decision of the Ljubljana Higher Court to grant an appeal by Igor Pezdirc, who owns parts of two out of the total of 49 plots at the location of a former cigarette plant, was published on Monday by AJPES, the agency for public legal records.
The ruling follows the April decision of the Constitutional Court that Pezdirc may exercise his pre-emptive right, as violation of this right would represent an encroachment of the right to private property.
The complex just south-east of Tivoli Park is slated to be transformed into a housing and commercial development, but the project has been stalled due to a dispute in the sale of the land from the bankruptcy estate of a failed developer.
The huge development was sold by the administrator of the bankrupt builder Imos-G to the Austrian company EWO - Bauträger for EUR 25m in July 2018, but just before the transaction could be finalised, Pezdirc stepped forward to annul the deal.
The deal fell through as Pezdirc exercised the pre-emptive right and the administrator concluded a contract with him, which was later contested in court.
The court of first instance decided that Pezdirc cannot exercise the pre-emptive right on all remaining land plots of the complex, which was upheld by the Higher Court. Pezdirc then filed an appeal at the Constitutional Court.
The Constitutional Court ordered the Higher Court to take a new decision in the case, and the latter now allowed Imos-G to sign a contract with Pezdirc.
Along with the Austrian company and Pezdirc, also bidding for Tobačna City was the Ljubljana-based builder KPL, owned by the Bosnian company MG Mind, which had unsuccessfully initiated court proceedings against the original sale to EWO - Bauträger.
In the new decision, the Higher Court rejected the arguments by EWO - Bauträger and KPL, including that Pezdirc does not have enough money to buy the complex and that he only stands for another buyer.
His lawyer Marko Zaman has rejected the suspicion that Pezdirc does not have enough money by noting that he had already paid a deposit.
As for media speculations that Montenegrin businessman Alen Sijarić stands behind him, Zaman said that the pre-emptive right was not transferable, while Pezdirc was not prohibited from selling the land later on.
STA, 15 May 2019 - The National Council, the upper chamber of parliament, is spearheading a new attempt to help several thousand people who took out mortgages in Swiss francs and ran into trouble when the Swiss central bank stopped protecting the value of the currency in 2015.
It adopted on Wednesday a bill that would make it obligatory for banks to convert all Swiss franc loans to euro at the exchange rate valid at the time the loan agreement was signed.
The new loan agreement would bear interest applicable to euro loans at the time of the original loan agreement, and borrowers would be entitled to get back any excess payments they have already made.
The bill would apply to all Swiss franc loans made between 28 June 2004 and 31 December 2010, including those that have already been fully paid up.
The legislation, which will now have to be examined by the lower chamber of parliament, is substantively the same as a bill proposed by Franc Association, a group lobbying for Swiss franc borrowers, in December 2017.
That bill automatically expired when the new parliament was inaugurated in 2018, with franc borrowers counting on the new parliament being more susceptible to their proposal and enlisting the National Council to help get the legislation into parliamentary procedure.
The new government indicated in late-2018 it was willing to tackle the issue, with the caveat that it would try to seek a different solution than the one proposed by franc borrowers.
The original bill had been strongly criticised by banks, which want the issue resolved on a case-by-case basis rather than with a sweeping systemic law.
It has also come under fire from the European Central Bank, which expressed serious concerns about its retroactive character and effects on the banking sector.
Slovenian courts have so far delivered mixed verdicts in claims brought by borrowers, substantively revolving around whether consumers had the necessary information about risks when they took out loans.
But the Supreme Court appeared to have set a general course for future lower-court rulings with two verdicts in late-2018 that respectively determined that consumer protection rules at that time were more lax, and that banks had sufficiently explained the risks.
At least one case has already made it to the Constitutional Court, which is yet to deliver its verdict.
STA, 13 May 2019 - The National Assembly passed on Monday legislative changes delaying the next round of mass property appraisal for about a year. Under the government-proposed changes, the appraisal will be completed by the end of March 2020 and not the end of July 2019, as initially planned.
The delay was deemed necessary by the government to allow more time to find consensus about what sort of appraisal model to use in the future.
To allow the extension and prolong the validity of the current system, the government drafted changes to the act on mass appraisal of real estate and the real estate records act, with the National Assembly passing them today.
Slovenia introduced the real estate appraisal system in 2006. After the Constitutional Court raised an issue with parts of the legislation in 2013, it was amended at the beginning of 2018.
The changes define the system more closely and stipulate ways in which the values can be used for tax purposes. The changes also allow the public to participate in the creation of valuation models and allow appeals by owners.
Finance Ministry State Secretary Natalija Kovač Jereb told the MPs before the vote that the government wanted to reach a high level of acceptance of mass appraisal and want to dedicate more time talking to experts and municipalities.
In autumn, a trial appraisal will be conducted and appraisal models will be presented and the final models will take into account the comments from the public.
Coalition parties supported the delay, while the opposition, including the minority government's partner, the Left, expressed disagreement with the delay.
The Democrats (SDS) said that the government had not presented sufficient concrete reasons for the delay, adding that the original legislation must have been drafted poorly.
All our stories on property in Slovenia are here
STA, 6 May 2019 - The newspaper Finance writes about the booming property market in Slovenia's capital in Monday's editorial, finding that nothing can hurt the demand or growing property prices.
Under the headline “Ljubljana Realtors in a Hurry”, the paper quotes real estate agents, property developers and individuals selling flats, all of whom report brisk trading.
One of them says that many new apartments will hit the market next year, which could bring down the prices.
"The prices of those flats are mostly not known yet. The price list of one of the projects, aiming for average purchasing power buyers, indicates that a rationally designed apartment will cost between EUR 3,100 and 3,500 per square metre, including the appertaining parking lots and pantry space (...)”
"High-end apartments in best locations will come at much over five grand. The sale of such apartments is not questionable today. At the moment it appears that by the end of the year, the average home price per square metre will exceed last year's average of EUR 2,770.
"The demand, transactions and price growth cannot be hurt either by projections of an economic downturn or by the increased supply that will hit the market next year," writes the paper.
STA, 16 April 2019 - Slovenia's capital Ljubljana is short of some 4,000 non-profit homes for rent and will not be able to meet the demand on its own, the boss of the municipal housing fund, Sašo Rink, told the city council as it debated the issue on Monday.
With a population of some 280,000, Ljubljana is the largest city in Slovenia and demand for flats, new and second-hand ones, is huge, and so are the prices.
National statistics show that housing prices in Slovenia rose by 18.2% in 2018, although they have not yet exceeded the pre-crisis levels at national level.
However, Ljubljana is different. A recent report said a square metre of a second-hand flat costs almost 2,800 euro on average, or roughly as much as in 2008.
From 2008 to 2015, the prices of second-hand homes in Ljubljana slowly fell by 30%, but then they quickly rose by 35% in the next three years, Finance said.
Rink said Ljubljana's Public Housing Fund would not be able to effectively solve the situation if the state does not provide a systemic source of funds for public homes for rent.
City councillor Marko Koprivec of the Social Democrats (SD) agreed the issue should be addressed at the national level.
"Leaving the housing policy to the market when people are being pushed into an utterly inconvenient situation should stop," he stressed.
The city council also endorsed the city's 2019-2022 housing programme, which shows the housing fund had 14 projects in various stages of development at the end of 2018.
The projects which have a detailed timeline are to provide 1,094 flats, while a total of 1,500 are to be built when all the planned projects are implemented.
The city council also backed the fund's changed budget for 2019, cutting revenue to 21.9 million euro due to lower borrowing and raising expenditure to 25.8 million.
STA, 25 March 2019 - Prices of residential properties in Slovenia rose by 18.2% last year, driven by a 19.8% growth in the prices of second-hand homes, according to a report by the Statistics Office.
The number of transactions decreased by 14% from the 2017 peak to 9,421 in 2018. The number of transactions in new apartments remained low for the second year running.
In the final quarter of 2018, prices of existing family houses increased the most, by as much as 38.6% compared to the same quarter a year ago.
Prices of existing apartments in areas outside Ljubljana were up by 12.6% year-on-year, while Ljubljana saw an 8% growth.
Prices of new family houses and new flats were also up year-on-year in the final quarter of 2018, by 5.2% and 3.3%, respectively, with prices of both types of new homes rising by 3.7%.
Despite the volatility in prices of new apartments, the prices increased by 23.9% since 2015.
The final quarter saw only 38 new flats sold, which is a record low. The number of new family houses sold remained low as well, but at 24, this was the highest figure last year.
Compared to the third quarter, prices of existing homes - flats and houses - rose by 6.9% with prices of flats up by 4.1% and prices of houses increasing by 11.9%.
As many as 1,757 transactions in existing homes were recorded in the final quarter of 2018, which compares to only 632 involving newly built homes.
STA, 15 March 2019 - The Slovenian housing market showed signs of a slowdown in 2018 after a recovery that started in 2015. The number of real estate deals was down by around 10% last year compared to 2017 and their total value by 5%. Prices however continued rising, in particular in the capital, shows the annual report of the Mapping and Surveying Authority (GURS).
While the number of deals decreased for all types of real estate, the contraction was the biggest for apartments, especially in Ljubljana and its surroundings.
GURS argues that the decrease, coming despite rising demand, is the result of a lack of new construction and of the strong price growth in the last three years.
Demand continued to be fuelled by favourable socio-economic circumstances - especially low interest rates, access to loans, economic growth, new jobs and rising wages - and is gradually also encouraging a new housing investment and construction cycle around the country.
The new cycle first began in Ljubljana and on the coast, where demand is also strongest, but it failed to keep up with demand last year. According to GURS, a noteworthy amount of new apartments can only be expected on the market from the second half of this year onwards.
While turnover decreased, prices continued rising. The prices of used apartments were up by 10% on average at the level of the entire country compared to 2017 and by 22% compared to 2015 when the market bottomed out.
Prices rose the most in the first half of 2018 and stagnated in the second half of the year before rising again slightly at the end.
The prices of houses, which have been rising more slowly than those of apartments after 2015, were up by 8% in 2018 but saw a downward trend in the second half of the year.
Despite strong growth in the past three years, apartment prices remain below the record figures of 2008. Ljubljana is an exception here, having experienced by far the highest growth.
The business property market saw turnover decrease by around 10%, while a slight contraction was also recorded for the building plots market despite strong demand - GURS highlighted a notable increase in prices as a reason.
Farmland experienced a marked drop in the number of deals after a record year in 2017 and prices decreased slightly. The number of deals in forest land was also down, but prices increased a little.
STA, 19 February 2019 - Contrary to previous announcements, the Finance Ministry has now said it will be impossible to introduce the new real estate tax in 2020 as planned because data on some types of property remain faulty.
"Even though much has been done in recent years, not all the registries have been put in order to such an extent as to remove obstacles to the introduction of the real estate tax," the ministry told the STA.
The new tax, which is to replace the current levy for the use of building land, property tax and forest road fee, has been years in the making and put off several times because of its unpopularity.
An earlier attempt at introducing such a tax failed in 2014 after the Constitutional Court quashed the property appraisal act, which was to underpin the new system.
"The biggest obstacle to the real estate tax at the moment is that data on actual use of land for public roads and public railway infrastructure will probably not be available in time," the ministry said.
It specified that the most problematic issue was data on municipal public roads.
One problem could be if such plots were to be exempt from tax, considering that a large section of such infrastructure is still located on privately held land.
The Finance Ministry has been encouraging municipalities to do their part of the job in terms of these data, because receipts from the real estate tax would be their source of revenue.
"All obstacles to introducing the real estate tax will have been removed once these data have been put in order as well," the ministry said, adding that this was the job of the ministries of environment and infrastructure.
Earlier this month, the newspaper Dnevnik reported that compiling a census of 1,200 kilometres of rail tracks and 39,000 kilometres of state and municipal roads did not begin until recently, mainly due to delays at the Infrastructure Ministry.
The legislation for the registering of the actual use of land for public roads and railway infrastructure was adopted in February 2018 and the appertaining rules only just before the end of 2018.
The census of plots of land with state roads is to be completed by June, but the problem is said to be the 32,000 kilometres of local roads which local officials do not think will be completed in less than two to three years.
All our stories on real estate in Slovenia can be found here
STA, 4 February 2019 – The newspaper Delo looks at Slovenia's housing policy in Monday's front-page commentary noting that "the fundamental problem of housing policy at the national level is that it does not exist."
Slovenia designed a housing policy in the second half of the 1990s, but most subsequent policy changes have been ineffective.
The last building boom took place a decade ago, when the state finished major works on the motorway network and construction giants needed new projects. Many projects failed miserably because of the economic crisis.
"But housing construction should not be the result of booms, it should be framed by a clear housing policy underpinned by expected demographic trends," the paper says in Where Are the Foundations of Apartments?
The commentator points to the forthcoming launch of the Magna paint shop near Maribor and wonders whether anyone has considered where all the new workers will live and how they will get home, and whether the appropriate infrastructure to serve them will be built.
"This should not be perceived as a problem to be solved, but rather as a business opportunity for the state to extract the most out of every project.
"The fact is, tax revenue depends more on this auxiliary infrastructure - exploitation of all external effects of an investment - than tax inspections and higher tax rates."