Government to tackle problem of empty apartments left to state

The government instructed ministries on Thursday to draw up a residential housing development plan to solve the problem of abandoned apartments in areas with declining population numbers.

“A solution has to be found to the problem of unused apartments ceded to the state,” Minister of Public Administration Jaak Aab (Center) said in a press release following the Thursday cabinet meeting.

“The purpose of the plan is to support solving the concerns related to problems with residential housing outside the areas that have evolved as population magnets, especially those related to unused dwellings," the minister said, adding that also legislative amendments would have to be pondered.

Aab said that the plan aimed at solving housing problems in areas that had gone through population decline recently. While a small number of areas has become increasingly popular, other places that in Soviet times had plenty of residents are now standing empty.

Several municipalities have the added issue that they have been gathering real estate. In areas where the value of property has declined to the point where maintaining it costs more money than an apartment or house is worth, real estate is often ceded to the local councils—who then find themselves facing the decision to either invest, or let the property fall apart.

By June 30 this year, 90 apartments had been ceded to local councils, 57 of which are located in Kohtla-Järve, five in nearby Kiviõli, and two in Püssi, all of them in northeastern Estonia. Most of the apartments are not fit for human habitation, and they can’t be sold, as there us no demand for apartments in these locations.

The government will have a draft plan to discuss by Nov. 30 this year, according to the press release. Drafting it will be coordinated by the minister of entrepreneurship and IT, the funding plan will be drawn up by the minister of finance.

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