Map tracks massive Czech debt recovery problem

Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors, CC-BY-SA

One in 11 Czechs faces property seizure, according to a new map released on Tuesday by the NGOs Open Society and Ecumenical Academy. According to the map, Czechs on average have 75,712 crowns in debts subject to recovery proceedings. The highest debts are in Prague, reaching on average 116,608 crowns.

Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors, CC-BY-SA
The worst situation is in the district of Most in North Bohemia where one fifth of inhabitants over 15 face multiple property seizure proceedings, the map suggests.

“There are many causes why people end up in a debt trap, for instance, if their partner dies, if they get a divorce, lose their job or suffer work-related injury and their income suddenly falls,” Radek Hábl, the coordinator of the project, told the Czech News Agency.

The map shows that the highest number of people facing property seizure are in the regions of Ústí nad Labem and Karlovy Vary, while the lowest are in the Vysočina and Zlín regions in South Moravia.

The map was conceived primarily for the municipal authorities to check the situation of their inhabitants and take appropriate measures, such as introducing debt consultancy measures. The map should be updated every three months.

A survey conducted among debtors from three regions proves that people who are facing enforcement proceedings appreciate any kind of personal support:

“Most of them become paralysed,” the head of the research project Edit Szennay told the Czech News Agency. “They said they were not able to deal with property seizure and their seemingly inconclusive situation and that they would need assistance.”

The survey also showed that social housing as well as a willingness by creditors to take an accommodating stance and agree on repayment instalments would help improve the situation of people in debt.

The authors of the map also point out that changes in the debt clearance rules would help improve the situation.

According to the Chamber of Bailiffs of the Czech Republic, over 830,000 people faced property seizure last year, with the overall outstanding debt totalling 4.4 million crowns.