Latvian housing: many buildings uninhabitable
The Latvian Building Inspectorate has been investigating the state of residential buildings in ten municipalities, including the largest cities in the country. The alarming result: most buildings show damage requiring expensive repairs, but the revenues from rent are often insufficient to cover such measures, while apartment owners only finance repairs in their own homes. Latvian media call for a change of attitude.
On the website of state-run radio station Latvijas Radio, Artis Rimmo of the Association of Management and Administration of Latvian Housing is relieved that the problem is finally being discussed:
“Congratulations and respect for the supervisors at the Construction Council of Latvia. This is the first government supervising institution to pull its head out of the sand and call a spade a spade. With this first step we are finally realizing that we have a serious problem in our country. But these results were foreseeable 15 years ago. The time bomb was programmed during the privatisation process. ... We see the problem every day when moving around in the city by car, bike or on foot. We have to be on our guard in case something falls from fire walls, chimneys, roofs or balconies.”
Ownership brings responsibility
The way apartment owners think is only gradually changing, Diena states:
“Most of the apartments in these houses are privately owned. They were acquired in exchange for privatisation certificates, which for many people pretty much fell out of the sky straight after the country achieved independence. So they aren't regarded as valuable. Since the beginning of the privatisation process it has been common for people to see only their flat as their property. Not the stairways, the roof or the elevator. So they fall into disrepair because no one looks after them. ... Many people are only now realising that they are responsible not just for the apartment they live in but also for the entire house and property. Where behaviour has changed there are visible improvements the form of clean stairways and a tasteful environment. This is the case regardless of how rich the residents are.”