Eviction from mortgaged property will still be possible despite new law
On 10 September, the Human Rights and Civil Integration Committee of the Parliament of Georgia discussed the 29 July bill amending the Law on Police of Georgia, proposed by Mr. Gedevan Popkhadze. According to the bill, until 1 February 2014 the police will not be allowed to participate in enforcement proceedings during which forced eviction is to be undertaken for mortgage repossession to a creditor or any other individual. Simply put, the police will not be able to evict individuals whose apartments have been used as security for a mortgage loan. We believe that this amendment, in essence, will not change anything for debtors, and it will also have a negative effect on the development of the banking sector and business environment in the country by creating false expectations.
The proposed bill bans police participation in enforcement proceedings. Despite this, it will not restrict compulsory enforcement. Debtors will just be misled and have unrealistic expectations, as evictions will still be possible without the participation of the police. According to the law, an enforcement officer can request assistance from the staff of a local agency of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and from the enforcement police who constitute a structural unit of the National Bureau of Enforcement. Compulsory enforcement is their only and direct duty. The enforcement police are not bound by the “Law on Police”, therefore, they will retain their right to participate in enforcement proceedings.
Subsequently, the legislative intent of the bill – to suspend enforcement by 1 February 2014 – will not be achieved, because, as noted above, the legislation also allows compulsory enforcement (including eviction etc.) without the participation of the police. Presumably, this amendment was meant as an addition to another amendment proposed several months ago which also intended to suspend for 6 months the enforcement proceedings in such cases. For the record, along with the Transparency International Georgia evaluation, critical evaluations of this initiative were made by the Government of Georgia, the Ombudsman of Georgia, the Business Ombudsman, the National Bank of Georgia, the International Chamber of Commerce and other organizations. Although we believe that many people are in a dire situation due to this problem, we think that said amendments will not solve the problems of the individuals who have failed to fulfill their obligations to financial institutions. These individuals will still have to pay off the debts or concede their apartments after 7 months. Besides, the new reality would create an unfavorable environment for small and medium sized financial institutions, which would result in a decrease in employment and in the deterioration of the business environment. Due to this and other risks, the Parliament stopped discussing the bill.
Based on the given circumstances, the proposed amendment to the “Law on Police” alone will not have any real significance. Instead, its adoption may give debtors the false hope that they will not be evicted while the eviction will still be possible.
We call on the Parliament of Georgia not to adopt this amendment and thereby mislead the affected citizens. Otherwise, it can be perceived as an action to win the support of voters in the pre-election period and not as an action that has a long-term benefit for the country.