The reprivatization scandal in Warsaw continues: the special legislation was published on 4 April 2017 to deal with all those cases where the Warsaw property was returned to the ‘wrong’ people. The new legislation is titled The Law on the Special Rules of Removing Legal Effects of the Wrongful Decisions with Respect to the Reprivatization in Warsaw. It is entering into force on 5 May 2017.
For over 20 years the authorities used to return properties and pay compensation to those who claimed that they lost their homes in Warsaw after WWII. Last year, it turned out that a majority of houses was returned not to the rightful heirs of prewar owners but to the hands of criminals who were not eligible for any compensation. It appears that masses of documents were forged and filed with courts to legalize the theft. There are grounds to believe that there has been a gang in Warsaw which comprised the politicians, advocates, town hall officials and developers. Now, the new legislation tries to remedy the situation. The Sejm (lower chamber of the Polish Parliament) is supposed to appoint 8 members of the special committee while the chairman will be appointed by the PM. The committee will have very broad powers, including also the right to annul the reprivatization decisions issued during the last 20 years if there was a breach of law. For this purpose the committee will be allowed to cancel the reprivatization decision and issue another administrative decision allowing seizure of the unlawfully returned property or remand the case back for re-trial by the municipality. The committee will also have the power to impose an obligation to return the undue benefits gained from reprivatization decision.
At present, the situation in Warsaw regarding the return of properties to the rightful heirs remains difficult. Everything is frozen. No return decisions are being issued because in the current political atmosphere 'restitution' equals 'scandal'.
Following the law which was adopted last year, on 22 February 2017, the Warsaw authorities made an announcement concerning the majority of the real properties that the rightful heirs have 6 months to apply with their claims. Everybody who wants to keep the chances of recovering his or her real estate in Warsaw should take legal steps and file a claim not later than 22 August 2017.
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