A proposal to tackle abandoned or semi-abandoned buildings was agreed on Wednesday, with the Ministry of Finance and three municipalities signing an agreement for an €800,000 pilot project.
The project will produce guidelines for municipalities for preventing and solving the problems associated with abandoned apartment blocks in regions suffering from rapid population decline.
The findings will serve as a basis for developing additional support measures for municipalities and creating proposals for drafting potential legislative amendments.
In the course of the project, one or two half-abandoned apartment houses will be chosen in the city of Kohtla-Järve and in the municipalities of Valga and Lüganuse. Legal solutions will then be devised to solve ownership issues and to help residents relocated from the buildings.
There are also plans for unoccupied apartments to be mapped and spatial analyses carried out in the counties of Ida-Viru and Valga, spokespeople for the Ministry of Finance said.
Minister of Public Administration Jaak Aab said that the issue of half-empty apartment houses affects the living environment and socio-economic situation of the regions and regional development in general. He said that in collaboration with the three municipalities solutions will be devised that can be used also by other regions experiencing a similar problem.
"Valga has been addressing the problems related to population decline for decades. Abandoned and desolate houses reduce the value of real estate and the vitality of the whole city," Valga municipality mayor Margus Lepik said.
The mayor of the municipality of Lüganuse, Viktor Rauam, said their municipality has become famous in Estonia for pulling down about 20 half-empty apartment houses in Kivioli town, which has become the center of the municipality following the administrative reform, since 2000.
"Throughout this time we have learned and tested various methods for solving problems with apartment blocks, spending quite large amounts of time and the municipality's budgetary funds," Rauam added.
The project will run until 2021 and its budget totals €803,22, of which €630,000 is support for the three municipalities for the conduct of activities in their territory.
Editor: Helen Wright