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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

City Wants Owners to Pay the Cost Of Repairs

The Moscow City Duma on Wednesday passed a housing bill that could shift the cost of apartment building repairs from the city budget to the building's residents.

The bill, introduced by Mayor Yury Luzhkov, was passed in a first reading by the majority United Russia faction, despite numerous objections by the two opposition factions, Yabloko and the Communists.

Under the federal law on privatization, the state is required to finance major repairs if the building was in need of renovation before residents had privatized their apartments. But the new bill would mean apartment owners would fund repairs themselves.

The bill passed 21-0 with four abstentions. If adopted, it could come as a shock to residents accustomed to having the city take care of major building renovations.

Yabloko Deputy Sergei Mitrokhin said it was "unacceptable" to "shift the burden onto citizens."

Independent Duma Deputy Stepan Orlov said the bill conformed to the new federal Housing Code, which states that apartment owners are responsible for "maintenance of common property in the apartment building."

An extra fee would likely be included in a separate line on utilities bills that building residents would have to pay in order to cover costs for major repairs, Communist Deputy Sergei Nikitin said.

As the bill reads now, however, the city reserves itself the option of financing major repairs.

The bill would also allow the eviction of residents in certain cases without providing them another place to live.

Those who can be evicted under the law include residents stripped of their parental rights and residents who "systematically violate the legal rights" of neighbors.

"The new Moscow bill is an extension of faults of the federal law, which we didn't support either," Nikitin said.

Critics of the bill complained that it shifts many of the City Duma's responsibilities to City Hall, including the right to set prices for utilities.

"The City Duma is being completely deprived of all levers of control," said

Deputies will have one month to work out amendments to the bill before the crucial second reading, which Nikitin said would likely be in early June.

United Russia has 13 seats in the Duma, compared with four for the Communists and three for Yabloko. There are 15 independent deputies.