Bosnia and Herzegovina

#Keywords : Eviction Dernière mise à jour le 21 April 2019




Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) is a country located in South Eastern Europe, in the centre of the Balkan Peninsula where there is evidence of human presence since Palaeolithic. BiH is marked by the oldest Palaeolithic monument in south-eastern Europe, the engravings in Badanj Cave near Stolac in Herzegovina, dated around 14-12000 BCE. More recent archaeological site “Bosnian Pyramid” near the town of Visoko causes controversy, advocates different views about prehistoric civilizations, but such attitudes are still waiting for scientific confirmation. However, Bosnia and Herzegovina has a lot of artefacts to prove inhabited at least since Neolithic times. In the late Bronze Age, the Neolithic population was replaced by Indo-European tribes known as the Illyrians, and later in the 6th century this area was inhabited by Slavs.

  • Middle Ages was characterized by dominance of the Western Roman Empire, the Eastern Roman Empire or Byzantine Empire and the Bosnian medieval state. The Kingdom of Bosnia was a medieval kingdom that evolved from the Banate of Bosnia (1180–1377).
  • The Ottoman conquest of Bosnia marked a new era in the country’s history and introduced tremendous changes in the political and cultural landscape of the region. A number of cities, such as Sarajevo and Mostar, were established and grew into major regional centers of trade and urban culture. Within these cities, various Sultans and governors financed the construction of many important works of Bosnian architecture.
  • Austro-Hungarian Era (1878–1918) : Austro-Hungarian forces quickly subjugated initial armed resistance upon take-over. The concept of Croat and Serb nationhood had already spread to Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Catholics and Orthodox communities from neighbouring Croatia and Serbia in the mid 19th century. By the latter half of the 1910s, nationalism was an integral factor of Bosnian politics. The Austro-Hungarian government’s decision to formally annex Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1908 (the Bosnian Crisis) caused tensions, and culminated on 28 June 1914, when Gavrilo Princip assassinated the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife, in Sarajevo. Sarajevo assassination in history is well known as the immediate cause of World War I.
  • Kingdom of Yugoslavia (1918–1941) : Following World War I, Bosnia was incorporated into the South Slav kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (soon renamed Yugoslavia). Political life in Bosnia at this time was marked by two major trends: social and economic unrest over “Agrarian Reform 1918-1919” manifested through mass colonization and property confiscation. BIH was a predominantly rural country.
  • World War II (1941–1945) : Starting in 1941, Yugoslav communists under the leadership of Josip Broz Tito organized their own multi-ethnic resistance group, the Partisans. On 25 November 1943 the Anti-Fascist Council of National Liberation of Yugoslavia with Tito at its helm held a founding conference in Jajce where Bosnia and Herzegovina was re-established as a republic within the Yugoslavian federation.
  • Socialist Yugoslavia (1945–1992) : The end of the war resulted in the establishment of the Federal People’s Republic of Yugoslavia, with the constitution of 1946 officially making Bosnia and Herzegovina one of six constituent republics in the new state. Bosnia and Herzegovina existence within Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRJ) was, for the most part, peaceful and prosperous. Industrialization led to the urbanization and the population pressure on urban centres had grown in 1960s and ’70s. With the fall of communism and the start of the breakup of Yugoslavia in 1990th, the doctrine of tolerance began to lose its potency and different national goals spread their influence leading to the dissolution. After the referendum, BIH declared its independence in 1992. Unfortunately, dissolution of SFRJ caused war in Bosnia and Herzegovina.


Tragic conflict in the region, as BiH Constitution defined the war devastations from 1992 to 1995, had caused huge direct consequences to demographic picture of the country : thousands of persons got killed and thousands were reported missing. In addition, 2.2 million people had fled from their pre-war homes in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which makes more than 50% of the domicile population. Out of that number 1.2 million people asked for refugee protection in more then 100 countries all over the world, while at the same time more then million persons were displaced within the country.

Aside from the devastating human impact of the war nearly 500,000 homes or almost half of all housing units in the country were partially or completely destroyed. Out of this number, around 80% of housing units were either destroyed or heavily damaged. The War ended in December 1995 with the signing of the General Framework for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina, more often referred to as the Dayton Peace Agreement leaving a long road ahead in resolving the urgent, yet complex, issue of reconstruction across the country.

To know more about that : Housing stock situation in 1995, Housing and urban profile of Bosnia and Herzegovina, 2006.

According to the Constitution, Bosnia and Herzegovina shall consist of the two Entities, the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (about 51% of the territory) and the Republika Srpska (about 49% of the territory) (hereinafter “the Entities”) and Brčko District.

Since its 1992 independence and the 1995 Constitutional framework of the Dayton Peace Agreement, Bosnia and Herzegovina has followed a path of state-building, while remaining under final international supervision through the figure of the High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina. Bosnia and Herzegovina is a potential candidate country for accession into the EU; an EU-BiH Stabilization and Association Agreement has been signed in 2008. Its accession to NATO is in the phase of negotiation, and a Membership Action Plan has been signed in April 2010.

Since the last official counting was done in 1991 : Bosniaks (43.5%), Croats (17.4%), Serbs (31.2%), Yugoslavs (5.5%) and others (2.4%). Today, in Bosnia and Herzegovina live three ethnic groups which is basically determined by religious descent : Islam, Orthodox and Catholic.


Last census of BiH population conducted in 1991 registered almost 4.3 million people, in a bit less than 1.3 million households, so the average household size was 3.4 persons. The percentage of the population living in rural areas was 56%, and in urban areas 44%. The average density of 1991 population was 86 per square kilometre, with the average urban population growth rate of 2.8%. Major urban centres were areas of : Sarajevo, Banja Luka, Zenica, Tuzla, Mostar and Prijedor – towns with more than 100.000 inhabitants each.

The demographic situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina is catastrophic. According to a United Nations study, the population could fall further to two million, if only 900,000 people in 2100. Bosnia is likely to become the oldest countries in Europe. Involved, the low birth rate, but especially the emigration continues, and empty the country of his creative energy. (Source : Le courrier de la Bosnie Herzégovine 2011)

There is no real demographic pressure on the BIH housing market due to the recent heavy decrease of the population, whereas there is considerable pressure on major urban centres. In urban areas numerous of the repossessed and reconstructed homes and apartments were for sale, while in rural areas the number of transactions is much lower. Also, half of million BIH citizens live in abroad. According to average IMF figures from 1999-2003, BIH was the sixth largest recipients of remittances as a percentage of GDP worldwide. Despite of contribution of remittances and temporary positive affect the housing sector, diasporas could sell its property and pay-back for its new host country.


Recovery of destroyed economy was slowed down due to the financial crisis with the lack of funds for investment and unemployment (28% in 2012) on one hand and large public consumption on the other. To this end, IMF Agreements, international aid and remittances play an important role in the BiH financial stability. However, there was a rapid decline in aid inflows in later years. International aid in BiH for 2011 was related: 68% of loans and 32% of the grant funds. Official development assistance (ODA) in the 2011th show a decline compared to the previous period. The largest share of ODA in the 2011th is in the Infrastructure Sector. According the latest Eurostat data, BiH had a lowest GDP per capita in PPS (Purchasing power standards) among 37 European countries, and it is 28% of EU27 average. The poverty rate is high: it was estimated that 25% of the population lived below the poverty line in 2007, with increasing tendency.

The war divided and disrupted the social protection systems, including health care, social assistance, pensions and veteran benefits. At the same time, the war dramatically increased the need for these systems, since many BiH citizens were pushed into unemployment, poverty and vulnerability. Significant resources are provided in government budget for the alleviation of poverty through social programs (about 669 million KM in 2004, about 5% of GDP), but the targeting of these resources is fairly ineffective, as only a small percentage of the poor population receive adequate form of targeted social assistance. 60% of young people are unemployed. Only a narrow fringe of young people, ultra skilled, find a labor. Others have the choice between piston, bribes … or going abroad. (Source : Le courrier des Balkans)

Regarding the housing issues, budgets on local level provide a limited support to public utility companies. The Governments try to retain lower utility prices than the real market prices and utility companies very often operate with debts and difficulties due to low level of payment collection and a lack of funds for modernization. Local budgets support costs for housing but the prices still continue to grow, and users are not satisfied with the services.

IN 2011 (Source: Welfare 2006-2011 published in 2012, Agency for Statistic of BiH) :

  • 4% of adults don’t have a sufficient income to support themselves
  • 3,6% of adults are beneficiaries of subvention (subventions for rent, heating and funeral)
  • Close to 3% of adults are with serious housing problems
  • 1,2% of minors are beneficiaries with serious housing problems.

IN 2012 (Source : Eurostat survey), the price of food in BIH is 76% of EU27 average, and dispute of lover costs for house and utilities, the family with average earnings can hardly make all payments.



Urban development was influenced by Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian Era. The influence of east and west made unique architectural marks for all cites in BIH. The industrial development in former Yugoslavia (SFRJ) was accompanied with most significant urbanization. Pressure on urban centres had grown in 1960s and ’70s and resulted construction of new residential areas.


It could be estimated that 46% inhabitants are currently residing in urban areas, while an average population growth of urban population, before 2007 was 0.3% which is a significantly lower compared to the pre-war figures. According to World Bank projections the urbanization rate will increase to 51% by 2015, and 57% by 2025. The average density of population was 75 per km2. According Household Budget Survey 2007, the average housing unit is 73 m2 and average area per person is 28.1 m2. (Source: Agency for Statistic BiH)

Until the mid-twentieth century, BIH was predominantly rural country, and after urbanization private houses dominate too, especially in the suburbs. Life in a private house with a garden is still the preferred form of housing. The last decades bring differentiation between residents. Different price of houses or flats in different areas and also dissimilar housing conditions become visible among rich and poor. But, with the help of pre-war tenancy or owner, differentiation can be overlook or is not prevails so far.

Meanwhile, municipalities responsible for public services had to started to restructure their urban public services, which will have a huge effect on housing policy. The improvement of the urban housing services (water, sewage, roads, garbage collection, etc.) requires huge resources, which cannot be financed without increasing the user charges (consumption fees). The increase of the prices of housing related services will raise the need to provide support for the lowincome vulnerable groups.




Apart from having a complex political structure, imposed upon it under the terms of the 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement, Bosnia and Herzegovina is committed to participate actively in important housing and urban reforms and to cooperate closely with countries of the region as well as with international institutions and organisations. In addition to the complex and divergent administrative structures, very often political reasons are slowing down reform process in BIH. Although the right to housing is formally endorsed and the Annex VII of the Dayton Peace Agreement formally evoked the right of refugees and displaced persons to return to their homes, it is not easy to fully access and exercise these rights.


According to the BIH Constitution there are no state competencies in housing, urbanism or spatial planning. These areas are being regulated at the level of Entities and Brčko District. Recognizing the outstanding need and necessity to coordinate activities in the area and aiming to a comprehensive approach the recent legal amendments provided for the state competencies in housing policy being founded with the Ministry for Human Rights and Refugees of Bosnia and Herzegovina with a mandate for setting up basic principles for coordinating activities, harmonising BiH government policies and plans with international community in the field of housing policy, reconstruction and development. (Source: Housing and Urban Profile of Bosnia and Herzegovina, 2006, Ministry for Human Rights and Refugees)

Bosnia and Herzegovina has ratified the Revised European Social Charter on 07/10/2008, but not the art.31 about housing right. Commisions are formed to continue to discuss about these articles and some of them are now ratified, concerning health social security and social protection for exemple. It has not signed the Additional Protocol Providing for a System of Collective Complaints.


There are ministries of physical administration in both entities and Brčko District, although with considerably different coverage and areas of responsibilities. Responsibilities are further divided between the entity and/or cantons and municipalities. As opposed to Republika Srpska (having no cantons), general competencies related to housing and urbanism in Federation BiH are situated at cantonal level, while government of Brčko District of BIH is directly responsible for these issues. Housing is jurisdiction of Federal Ministry of Physical Planning in FBiH, Ministry of Space Planning, Civil Works and Ecology in RS and Department for Refugees, Displaced Persons and Housing Policy in Brčko District Government.


According to Human Right Watch (2012), many Roma in Bosnia live in informal settlements that lack stability and security for their families. Forced evictions are an ever-present danger, and the government has made no provisions for adequate alternative housing for those who are evicted. Forced evictions have been a particular problem in Mostar, with some Roma families evicted twice in the past two years. Most recently, in October 2011, 100 Roma were left without adequate housing after an eviction to make space for housing for other Roma. None of these evicted were offered alternative accommodation.



First land code appears in 1858 when the country was still part of the Ottoman Empire (Arazi Kanunnamesi). The Austro-Hungarian specialists agrarian issues very difficult to translate the Ottoman land law in European law. In the Ottoman tradition, God alone possesses the earth, the inhabitants may not be as beneficial owners of these lands. For some historians, social unrest have seen – in the nineteenth century – always originate from land disputes or agrarian revolts. At the end of the nineteenth century, the first land register will be made by the Austro-Hungarian, identifying taxes, property values and records of rights of these lands. (Source : Les acteurs de transformations foncières autour de la Méditerranée au XIXe by Vanessa Gueno and Didier Guignard, ed. Karthala, 2013).

Approximately 30% of these land records were destroyed during the Second World War, without being replaced. They were manually updated, many transactions is not even recorded during the war in the 90s. The tax is very high (15%), transactions were conducted informally. In 1999, a new system is developed (Butas), but the crisis prevents it from working properly. (Source : Website Landportal – 2007)


The war in the early 90s destroyed a lot of of buildings. Restitution of plots is far from obvious because it is difficult to establish title. In addition, the government did not want to recognize as valid securities issued during this period of conflict. Legislation on property rights is needed : access to land is observed very difficult, especially because the lack of title hinders access to mortgage credit. Currently, 94% of agricultural land is held in private ownership. (Source : Website Landportal – 2007).

Bosnia and Herzegovina have had a framework in place for land titling and registration since the 1930’s. This system, implemented by the Austrians, delineates ownership of land and other property, related rights, and mortgages. Although land registers exist across Bosnia and Herzegovina, approximately 30 percent of the registers were destroyed in World War II and many were not replaced. Land registers are updated manually, and many transactions have not been recorded because of political instability and a 15 percent purchase tax on real estate (pushing land transactions into an informal market). In approximately half of the country, the Austrians also implemented a cadastral system for recording real property rights. Under this system, the municipality is in charge of updating land records, but the majority of the funding comes through the State. In 1984, this system was updated through the “Law on Land Surveying and the Real Estate Cadastre. “Through this law the registration system was partially computerized, and included some secured loans on property. However, the system was only 10 percent functional in 1999 and the lack of comprehensive registration is still an obstacle to a functional land market.

In Bosnia and Herzegovina today, about 94 percent of the agricultural land is privately owned and is farmed privately. Pre-1992 legislation allowed individual holdings only up to a parcel size of 10 hectares of flat land and up to 15 hectares of hilly land. This legal limit has now been abandoned. About 5 percent of arable land is now held by state farms. (Source : FAO, The Balkan Countries of Albania and the Former Yugoslavia)



  • Roma


Social and economic aspects



In 1991 26% of the housing stock was in social ownership, and 74% was privately owned. Socially owned property was typically housing units in multi-unit residential buildings, where the occupancy right holders had almost the same rights as private owners. Housing stock of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1991 consisted of 1,207,693 privately and public-owned housing units, distributed into 6,823 settlements. The average housing unit area was 60.45 m2 per a household, or around 16.68 m2 per an inhabitant. (Source: Housing and Urban Profile of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ministry for Human Rights and Refugees 2006)


The process of return of property was substantially completed in late 2006. In 2000, international community in BIH established the so-called PLIP Cell for monitoring and application of relevant regulations (Property Law Implementation Plan) that consisted of leading international community organizations in BIH: OHR, OSCE, UNHCR and CRPC. According to the latest statistics that were published by PLIP agencies, the total of 211,791 claims for repossession of housing property and tenancy rights were submitted. 197,815 positive decisions were made and 12,642 negative decisions. The number of closed cases is 197,688 which make more than 99% implementation rate of positively decided cases. In outstanding cases due to disputable factual and legal status administrative procedures, disputes or lawsuits are still ongoing before competent courts. (Source: Revised Strategy of Bosnia and Herzegovina for the implementation of the Annex VII of the Dayton Peace Agreement, MHRR 2010).

For the results that were realized regarding the repossession of property and tenancy rights, Bosnia and Herzegovina is perceived as a good example in the region. A fast and massive housing privatization took place, and through different financial instruments the publicly owned stock has been sold and transferred in private ownership. In addition to the right to free return and property repossession, Annex VII of the Dayton Peace Agreement guarantees the right of all refugees and displaced persons to compensation for their property that cannot be returned to them. At the same time the mechanism has been foreseen through which refugees and displaced persons could exercise their right to compensation “instead of repossession”.


The reconstruction of housing stock is a compelling need. Indeed, Bosnia and Herzegovina, part of the former Yugoslavia, has suffered from the civil war of the 1990s. The war destroyed or heavily damaged half of the units of the time ! According to the data collected by the MHRR, in the postwar years, 80% of all housing affected has been completely demolished. Since the Dayton Peace Accords in 1995, residents have faced the need to rebuild their homes in a market economy very different from what they knew.

The restructuring of the economy started and speeded up after the war. In housing terms, this has led to a focus on two major areas of operational concern: Repossession and Reconstruction. Property laws implementation rate on BIH level is almost 100% meaning that all positively decided cases have been closed upon the repossession by their pre-war owners/occupancy rights holders followed by the privatization of the former social ownership.

Housing reconstruction and the return process has become one of the most important strategic aims in postwar politics resulting in an enormous housing investment in the country. So far, more than 70% (approx. 330 thousand) housing units have been reconstructed. Before transfer of responsibilities for the return process from international community to domestic authorities in 2003, reconstruction was financed mainly with donor resources, but in recent years, it is estimated that 75% of the total housing reconstruction investment were budgetary allocations at all administrative levels in BiH and the donor sources were further reduced.

Because of the scope of the needs, the reconstruction entailed insurance of minimum accommodation. The minimum housing standard conditions set by the international community in BIH in early post-war period provided for of 5 sq. meters per a returnee family member. In comparison to the average housing surface per an inhabitant, this reduction represents a radical sub-standardization. Many houses in rural area are still uncompleted and without facade or need infrastructure improvement. Mostly elderly people returned in rural areas and there are many who are not be able to return or live in their place of origin if there is a lack of health and social services, but also the lack of social ties to look after them or neighbors who can help them.


Housing transactions are mostly cash-based, and there is a very low mortgage loan to GDP ratio (1.1%), whereas in the last app. 5 years there was an increase to the housing loan portfolio. The house price per income ratio is around 5.6, which is close to other transition countries’ level, whereas the housing affordability index is less favourable (37%). (Source: Need of social housing in Bosnia-Herzegovina, 2009)

Booming housing and construction of new units was stopped due to the economic crisis. The demand in the housing market is still low, and especially in smaller cities where mostly don’t exist. Housing Index in Bosnia And Herzegovina increased to 2,976 in the fourth quarter of 2012 from 2,755 recorded in the fourth quarter of 2011. Housing Index in BIH is reported by the Agency for Statistic of BiH and it is measured by the number of completed residential constructions. Historically, from 2007 until 2013, Bosnia And Herzegovina Housing Index averaged 1,361 reaching an all time high of 3,669 in last quarter of 2010 and a record low of 202 in first quarter of 2011.

Based on data collectied in their 2008 assesment, Hegedüs and Teller (2008) said that housing costs – especially for those who live in the private rental sector – represent a considerable burden, amounting to over a third of a family’s average montly income (including informal activities in the labor market). (Source : J. Hegedüs, M ; Lux and N. Teller, Social Housing in Transition Countries, ed. Routeledge, 2013.)




There remains a significant number of displaced persons, refugees and other conflict-affected persons of concern who are in need of durable solutions, among them, 125,000 displaced persons whose status was confirmed in the 2005 re-registration process. Many of these people are extremely vulnerable and traumatized, living in inhumane conditions in displacement. Unfortunately, around 2,700 families continue to live in collective centers in BiH. Also, many persons are unable to return because their pre-war property is destroyed and is on the list of 45,000 housing units of returnees awaiting reconstruction or because landmines have not been cleared from their pre-war villages. (Source: Revised Strategy of Bosnia and Herzegovina for the implementation of the Annex VII of the Dayton Peace Agreement, MHRR 2010).

It can be assumed that despite the strong political support to return to the place of origin and “minority returns”, there is a trend of “ethnic concentration” in some parts of BIH relating to the great demographic changes, when the households have integrated in areas where their ethnic group is in majority. Also, the voluntary emigration process continued after the Dayton Peace Agreement was signed. Around one quarter of refugees and displaced persons have evidently integrated in their host countries and displacement places in BIH or have found other durable solutions.



The process of privatization comprised socially owned housing units throughout BIH. However, the Entities applied different privatization models. Privatization on the basis of certificates in FBiH corresponded to advantageous method for final beneficiaries, but the revenue from privatization was nil to zero, while on the other hand, using the voucher system and by relying on cash payments, RS achieved much better arrangements with regard to the financial effects of the housing privatization that contributed to the strengthening of housing budgets. However, both methods can be evaluated as versions of a “give away” privatization, because even in RS the actual payment was around 10-15% of the actual market value. As a result of privatization, social ownership has practically disappeared and the local governments have been left without public housing units.

Cultural aspects – Religious – Symbolic

The ethnic structure was dramatically changed in previous war, and the cultural heritage was also attacked. Some of destroyed symbol of the cities was reconstructed (old bridge in Mostar, old city Počitelj, mosques and church) or reconstruction still ongoing (Mosque Ferhadija in Banja Luka, Mosque Aladža in Foča, Orthodox temple in Mostar).

Medieval fortresses and tombstones “stečci”, as part of the cultural heritage, testify to the rich country history. The religious architecture is varied and impressive. Nearby there are mosques, Orthodox and Catholic churches and a Jewish synagogue. The unique diversity and merged influence is still main characteristic of all BIH cities, and together with a natural beauty, make Bosnia and Herzegovina increasingly popular as a tourist destination. Typical Bosnian house and characteristic Bosnian villages receive new contents and become a destination of eco and rural tourism. Wood and stone houses with characteristics of certain areas attract attention due to unique proportions.

Environmental aspects


Bosnia and Herzegovina has ratified a number of international agreements. The legal framework has been adopted, but a number of procedures are in the process of preparation and approval. The main jurisdiction is on entities level. On state level there is Department of environment protection within Sector for natural resources, energy and environmental protection in Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Relation of BiH. Competencies for ecology have: Federal Ministry of Environment and Tourism in FBiH, Ministry of Space Planning, Civil Works and Ecology in RS and Department of spatial planning, urban planning and environmental protection in Brčko District Government.

Significant improvements have been achieved: environmental permits have been introduced, protected areas established, fund for environment protection adopted, degree of pollution has been measured and monitored and companies invest in environmental protection. Due to the good examples, a lot of obligation and improvement must be done. Pollutions still occasionally exceed the requirement values: in Zenica (steelworks), Sarajevo (climate condition) and Bosanski Brod (oil refinery).

Sustainable development (SD) is common phrase and often aforementioned goal, but unfortunately it is obviously that BIH diverges from SD. We learn and teach about green houses or passive houses, sustainable housing or sustainable cites. Of course, we can find good private initiatives or excellent projects in BIH, but systematic approach is not possible without significant financial support, and furthermore without changing philosophy, lifestyle, production and consumption. Energy Efficiency, like first step or main demand is more practically represented.


In previous years, many agencies have worked to raise awareness about the importance of energy efficiency. Energy Efficiency in buildings have legal framework in BIH, regarding the thermo isolation and facade are part of construction rules and practices. Completed facade works are necessary and obligatory for Use Permit. Unfortunately, the lack of financing is reason for a lot of uncompleted private objects, especially in rural areas and suburbs. Bank lending programs intended to promote energy efficiency. But for a significant improvement it is still feels a lack of funds and subsidies.

Many initiatives in local communities are aimed at saving energy, ensuring new models of heating (using thermal, bio or other acceptable forms of ecologically-viable energy), and promoting the use of energy-saving lighting and other new generation household devices. Initiatives for conscientious consumption have been introduced in public utilities companies, but unfortunately the current condition and large debt in those companies can be a reason for slows implementation.

Bibliography & Sitography


As a result of the give-away privatization, local governments were practically left without public housing units, and they haven’t capacities for resolving housing problems for numerous vulnerable categories. Despite the implementation of numerous projects, that isn’t sufficient according the needs. For the more successful approach the adequate investment is necessary.

  • NEED FOR RECONSTRUCTION STILL EXIST : Based on data collected from the relevant municipal services, has about 125,000 residential unreconstructed units in BIH, about 30% of the damaged and destroyed housing stock. Largest of those are housing units with high degree of damage to total devastation. The Ministry of Human Rights and Refugees has a database of 51,664 families, or about 172,333 people, who need help in the reconstruction of housing units for voluntary return in BIH (on date 20 June 2013). For the reconstruction according need of the registered families, sustainable return should needs around of billion KM. (Source: MHRR, data from register 2013 and Returning process and Human Rights 2011)
  • HOUSING BELOW MINIMUM REQUIREMENT : The problem relates on collective accommodation, Roma settlements, some returnees in rural area without infrastructure and with minimum accommodation, and not large, but existing cases of homeless or social cases. Despite of efforts or ongoing projects, the data confirmed significant needs for the first two categories. In order to close collective centres, project started in 2011 and it is ongoing. Number of beneficiaries in collective accommodation, who need adequate housing, was 8,500 or 2,700 families. Social housing has been promoted for resolving problems of temporary collective accommodation. BIH joined the Project of the Decade of Roma Inclusion 2005 – 2015th, and Declaration was signed in 2008. According the updated data from 2009th “The process of recording needs of the Roma population in BIH”, 16,771 Roma, or 4,308 households need help with housing, employment and health care.
  • ILLEGAL CONSTRUCTION : One of the most crucial issues of the housing sector is illegal construction. Illegal construction had a tradition even in the pre-war period in former Yugoslavia. The problem was spread in whole region, not only BIH, due to the tolerance and pressure for urbanization and on urban area. Whole illegal settlements had been constructed in the suburbs, and processes of legalization of buildings were later solved problems. Currently, there is an intensive regularization work undergoing in both Entities and Brčko District. Illegal construction causes large social costs, infrastructure problems and inefficient use of resources.
  • UNCOMPLETED HOUSING UNITS AND SUB-STANDARDIZATION : Construction law, regulations and standards a guarantee for quality of building, but for private housing units the construction quality is questionable because of the huge share of self-help (or self build) construction. Despite of good architectural and construction standards, the lack of funds, desire for extra profited or need to provide price competitive square meter of flat is reason for use les quality materials, especially for final works. In accordance with the requirements of the customers, smaller flats have been built, again due to financial reasons. Maybe, statistic will not express a sub-standardization, but reality for young families is les then pre-war standard (16.68 m2 per an inhabitant). Also, reality is a lot of uncomplated private houses, without fasade and thermoisolation.
  • INCREASING PRICES FOR PUBLIC UTILITIES : There has been a serious increase in public utility service prices since 2004, which has resulted in a 25% share of the housing related expenses among all household expenditure, similarly to the trend of other transition countries. A household with an average income can pay operation costs, but additional for private rent with great difficulty.
  • NEW CONSTRUCTION AS A PROBLEM : Demands for new buildings in major cities require change on urban plans. Value of construction site in major cities is pressure for green area and non built area. Quality of living or value of private property can be threatened by new construction. Unfortunately, the individual struggle against “common interest and development” is hard and unsuccessful.


HOUSING AS DEMAND : Of the total number registered needs for reconstruction, approximately 43,000 people haven’t appropriate housing solutions. Some lived in temporary accommodation (mainly collective accommodation) and some lived in minimum accommodation without infrastructure. They are mostly vulnerable social category too. For those people proper housing is demand. Despite of increasing poverty, and numerous families who lives without proper accommodation, the pressure of homeless hasn’t been recorded. Unfortunately, that isn’t results of systematic government approach. The housing problems have been resolved with traditionally strong familial linkages or with the solidarity, mostly case by case. Social housing policy, with housing units in public ownership, can be recognised as a tool for future systematic resolving grooving needs.

SOCIAL HOUSING : Within the project “Follow up on the Functional Review of the Return Sector in BiH”, the “Need of social housing in Bosnia-Herzegovina” was made in 2008/9 in cooperation with Ministry for Human Rights and Refugees and other stakeholders. “The return programs, which aimed at reconstruction of houses of IDPs and refugees so as to allow them to return, could not address the housing needs of vulnerable groups who did not qualify as IDPs or refugees. There is a general consensus that the housing elements of the return programs should be complemented and – in the longer run – turned into housing policy for vulnerable groups, building upon the capacity achieved in the return programs’ transferrable housing policy tools (rent subsidies, housing allowance schemes, rental housing models, home-ownership programs of access, maintenance and reconstruction). The target groups for a social housing policy should include besides DPs with unsettled and burning housing issues (around 7000 people in collective types of accommodation some further 16000 persons who might lose their DP status due to not returning to places of origin), Roma, elderly, low-income households, and young couples, among them first-time buyers.” (Source: Need of social housing in Bosnia-Herzegovina, 2009) An efficient housing finance system is a precondition of an implementable social housing policy. The housing strategy should increase the number of households who can have access to housing and pay the cost without any (or with shallow) subsidy and increase the housing services (rental homes or “low-cost housing”) for the households belonging to the vulnerable group (under median income or under the poverty line).

The main demand is social housing units in public (local governments) ownership, for resolving low-income and vulnerable beneficiaries. Some pilot projects was implemented and additional ongoing. But according the needs, more investments and more housing units are necessary. Despite of needs, the lack of budgeting (domestic and donate funds) can be recognised as main reason for slow implementation. Additionally, actual political crises (all level of government) can’t support reforming process and provide capacity for more sufficient resolving housing matters.

Construction of flats for sales by price lower than market price is a known model of social housing. Those projects were implemented on local level in urban area for veterans and young couples. Those projects decreased stress in main cities. The housing needs of the young first-time buyers have to be addressed in a BIH social housing policy. Also, elderly with its needs must be recognized. Some attempts have been undertaken to develop models for social housing that would specifically address the needs of aged groups – housing combined with day-care and other services are being developed e.g. throughout Republika Srpska, and some local solutions have been implemented at Canton and municipal level in FBiH.

MAINTAINING OF RESIDENTIAL BUILDING : Maintain has incorporated in regulations and households can choose maintaining company. The usual problem for maintaining companies are low collection of payments. Households usually complain on over price of services. Mainly, maintaining founds a not sufficient for significant reconstruction. Maintaining companies provide loans, but most of the residents can’t accept this option. On order to maintain a reasonable quality of the housing stock, owners should be able to invest enough funds into maintenance of housing, but low-income households will have difficulties to cover such necessary investments. In addition, to avoid deferred maintenance, some municipalities have launched small-scale reconstruction programs, targeting at upgrading low-quality housing, and formerly socially owned but privatized housing. These programs can illustrate the outstanding needs for housing investments for large groups of the population who lack own financial tools or access to loans to invest into housing. (Source: Need of social housing in Bosnia-Herzegovina, 2009)

A lot of needs can be noted like: removal architectural barriers for disable persons, improvements of public utilities but without increase price for services, improvements of infrastructure, and subsidies for energy efficiency in housing, traffic and parking spaces and so on. The scope of demand is from main essential demand for housing till improvement existing conditions. The main step is functional housing policy, but also civil society actors can be more active.


  • UNOPI = Union for sustainable return and integrations in Bosnia and Herzegovina – UNOPI contains 98 associations – of refugees, displaced persons, returnees, citizens-, agricultural associations, humanitarian organizations, youth clubs, and other civil society organizations in Bosnia and Herzegovina and aboard, that make common contribution to the sustainable return and successful integration into community. Website UNOPIContact – Phone: +387 33 239 604 – Fax: +387 33 273 581.
  • CATHOLIC RELIEF SERVICE (CRS) = has developed three social housing models for specific target groups of returnees: one for an urban area targeting at tradesmen (Potocari), a rural model for farmer returnees (Jezero) and a third one targeted at elderly people (Fojnica). In all three models, the selection of the locality is crucial: besides the strong cooperation capacities of the municipalities, ensuring access to adequate services (roads, schools, health care facilities) was vital, which can contribute to the livelihood of the projects. Website – CRS Sarajevo : Phone: +387 33 205-827 – Fax: +387 33 205 373.
  • HILFSWERK – AUSTRIA = has different housing projects : Solving housing problems of Roma, Infrastructural projects, Research Project “Social Housing”, Support to sustainable return in larger Srebrenica region and so on. Website – Hilfswerk Austria Int. Sarajevo (HWA): Phone: +387 33 238-804 – Fax: +387 33 233-440
  • SUISSE CARITAS = has different housing and infrastructure projects, and has a projects regarding energy efficiency for schools and private houses. Website – Caritas Switzerland, Sarajevo: Phone: +387 33 668 185;
  • CIVILNIH INICIJATICA CCI = is an association with numerous activities. They publish Report about Quality of Living in municipalities and housing is part of documents WebsiteContact
  • DON, PRIJEDOR = different projects for civil society WebsiteContact
  • CITIZENS’ ASSOCIATION NEŠTO VIŠE = (Something More) BiH – “Nešto Više” motivates positive changes in society by offering opportunities to individuals and groups for formal and informal education, networking, work, joint experiences and helping others, all in order to make competent and responsible leaders who, by believing in themselves and others, foster openness and belonging to their society. Implemented several projects for improvement life conditions and utilities in local communities WebsiteContact
  • HABITAT FOR HUMANITY BOSNIA HERZEGOVINA = humanitarian non profit association who began his work in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2010 in partnership with LOK, a leading local microfinance company. They approached Habitat for Humanity with this idea in mind, and through their partnership a programme which allows access to affordable loans has been created for those in need of better housing. Two different types of loan are offered by Habitat for Humanity and LOK : the first for home improvements, the second for increased energy efficiency. Website
  • MIKROKREDITNA FONDACIJA LOK = Foundation, which aims to help the population of the less developed countries to improve their living conditions: housing loans, self-employment, etc.. WebsiteContact.

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