Electricity study shows Narva has fewer empty apartments than feared

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Narva Town Hall. Source: Urmet Kook /ERR

There are a few thousand apartments in Narva that are empty year-long or where people only live temporarily. An electricity consumption study ordered by Narva city government shows that the rate of empty apartments in the city is smaller than initially feared.

Narva's population decreases by around 1,000 a year and a few hundred apartments should presumably be left empty in the city each year. At the same time, the electricity consumption study shows that the actual situation is considerably better than initially expected. Zero-consumption apartments make up just 1 percent of all apartments and low-consumption (less than 100 kWh/year) make up less than 5 percent.

"In actuality, the study's results gave a satisfying result - empty apartments make up less than 5 percent of the city's apartment fund. This is not a startling result, that we have so many apartments in the cityscape that we need to demolish," said Kaie Enno, director of the city government's architectural and city planning department.

Enno assessed that the result came out better than expected because apartments in Narva have been over-crowded.

"Many households lived together in one apartment before and once apartments are vacated, households take the opportunity to use the empty apartments," Enno said.

Although the rate of empty apartments is low, there are still quite a large number of them. 350 apartments were deemed zero-consumption and another 1,500 were apartments, where yearly electricity consumption reached the level of a single WiFi router.

Real estate company Domus Kinnisvara's Narva region head Aleksandr Bogens said the number of empty apartments in Estonia's eastern-most city is surprising, but he doubts that some thousand apartments would suddenly be put up for sale.

"I believe these are all still apartments that owners rarely use, but they do. Whether they work in Tallinn, Sweden, or Finland and it is more comfortable for them than selling the apartment for something now and living in a hotel or booking-apartment," Bogens noted.

Bogens thinks owners are waiting for better days: "I believe once the coronavirus crisis ends and borders are open again, Russian citizens and tourists will travel to Estonia in larger amounts than before the crisis and in that case, some of these apartments will go for short-term rent."

Narva city government orders energy consumption studies from VKG Elektrivõrgud since 2015. Study results are used in drawing up new general plans, taking into consideration the consistent reduction of Narva's population.

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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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