The renowned law firm Pitkowitz & Partners, which focuses on dispute resolution and real estate law, supports the legally secure accommodation of Ukrainian refugees in Austria as part of an unpaid pro bono project.
Through the "Alt-Schotten", the association of former Schottengymnasium students, Partner Dr. Nikolaus Pitkowitz and Associate Konstantin Nagaev (both of them alumni) became aware of this charity project. Ukrainian families who had fled their home country due to the ongoing war were accommodated for several months in the guesthouse of the Schottenstift (Scots’ Abbey). "Supporting people in such a precarious situation is a matter of course for us," founding partner Nikolaus Pitkowitz emphasizes.
A total of 23 people, mostly women, children and elderly persons from various parts of Ukraine were accommodated in the guesthouse of the abbey. They were not only given shelter and food, but also medical and psychological support, a German language course, and above all, lots of emotional support. This was made possible by the initiative of Father Christoph Merth OSB, Abbot Nikolaus Poch OSB, other employees of the abbey, and donations from the “Alt-Schotten” association.
A further achievement: apartments have been found for all refugees accommodated in the guesthouse
Pitkowitz & Partners not only supports the Schottenstift, but also the apartment owners by providing advice on housing law and drawing up contracts. They also advise in questions concerning state support for Ukrainian refugees with regard to basic provision in Austria. Furthermore, the law firm assists in legal matters and helps in various questions that arise after fleeing a war-stricken country.
The providing of accommodation usually takes place through a precarium. This is an agreement by which the apartment is let without any remuneration; the agreement can be terminated at any time. The agreement provides the owner with a high level of flexibility: if the agreement is drafted correctly, then the tenant does not enjoy tenancy protection. In case of delay in eviction, a claim for disturbance of possession can be filed. Therefore, the accommodation can be provided for the exact period as required by the owner. Attention to detail is required when drafting the contract: due to the possible applicability of the Tenancy Law and the impact on the tax status of the provided apartment in case of (future) renting, disadvantageous results may arise for both parties. In particular, three issues need to be taken into consideration: costs to be covered by Ukrainian families, the arrangement of the immediate termination, and the burden of taxation that may affect the owner. Utmost care is required when drafting the contract and the mutual obligations in order to ensure legal security for the owner and the Ukrainian families, even in the context of private initiatives.
"Through our legal expertise we want to help the Ukrainian families and take away any doubts of those who want to offer them shelter", Nikolaus Pitkowitz describes the project. “Only a few people have the means to take in a family in need. Our mission is to make this as uncomplicated as possible for any donor."
Pitkowitz & Partners, based in Vienna, is a leading international commercial law firm specializing in international arbitration, high-stakes litigation, and real estate and construction law. With its involvement in cases spanning across the globe and through a myriad of industries, the firm has acclaimed a stellar international reputation. Pitkowitz & Partners regularly achieves top scores in all representative rankings and is, among others, listed in the GAR 100 ranking of the world’s leading arbitration firms.