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Wednesday 08.04.2020 | Name days: Dana, Dans, Danute, Edgars

Audit: majority of Latvian housing stock has degraded to a state of a slum

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VK, audit, housing stock, Latvia, maintenanceSince the denationalization effective access to housing security in Latvia does not exist and most of the housing stock has degraded up to a state of a slum, as concluded by the Latvian State Audit.

Of the 82 apartment building chosen by VK at random for inspection, 51 or 62% of buildings with 736 apartments and about 1 500 people living have been found to have damages related to non-compliance with fire safety regulations. According to data from the State Fire and Rescue Service, the most common reason for fires in 279 apartment buildings was inappropriate use of heating appliances and chimneys, which is the responsibility of owners. Accidents could have been avoided through active involvement from building managers and construction authorities.

While buildings continue to degrade, putting at risk the people living there, pedestrians and the environment, the costs of repairs also continue to increase, authors of the audit say.

VK has confirmed that to provide residents living in these 51 potentially unsafe buildings with new and safe housing, it would be necessary to invest EUR 29 million into creation of a new housing stock.

Other serious damages were found in 62 surveyed apartment buildings: roof surface breach or poor state of roof surface, damp foundation, etc. Repairs of these problems may cost building owners upwards of EUR 100 000. This is a considerable amount not everyone can afford.

Auditors also found out during inspections that even in cases when the responsibility for maintenance costs falls on the shoulders of municipalities and managing bodies, the management costs are not calculated in accordance with buildings’ maintenance needs.

VK also looked at the way municipal building management officials survey the state of buildings, plan work, calculate maintenance finances and perform necessary repairs.

It has been found that more than 50% of apartment building owners are unable to learn the state of the building entrusted to them because no annual survey work is even performed.

Managers have also been found being dishonest with preparation of building maintenance and repair plans. On top of that, building managers’ reports on the state of buildings are partial. The situation is similar with management of non-inhabitable buildings owned by municipalities (schools, cultural buildings and libraries). Here municipalities have a lot more to pay attention to when managing such buildings and planning their maintenance, VK adds.

The legislator has entrusted municipal construction offices with the duty to serve as supervisors that have a duty to ensure buildings within their territory are safe. Construction offices have the right to step in when the duty to guarantee building safety is not performed.

The audit concluded that construction offices mostly perform inspections only in response to complaints from residents, not as part of their everyday duties. The audit revealed that since 2015 construction offices have not used the opportunity to receive information about buildings from cadastre register free of charge. This means municipalities were not aware of the total number of buildings they have to manage before auditors stepped in, VK concludes.

On top of that, in cases when construction offices find major building damages, decisions for fixing problems are rarely followed. This means owners lack the pressure from controlling institutions to manage properties, auditors conclude. According to VK, municipalities and construction offices have to secure building safety and focus on control of risky areas, as well as reveal damages and have managers fix them.

After the audit, VK will ask the Cabinet of Ministers to provide support to Economy Ministry, which is responsible for the housing policy, so that it and other institutions are able to clearly assess the reasons and develop solutions.

The audit was performed in Daugavpils and Valmiera, as well as Aloja, Ērgļi, Gulbene, Limbaži, Olaine, Saldus, Tērvete and Ventspils.

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  1. Zerry says:

    They didn’t dare to do audit in Riga

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