Ukrainian refugees facing problems with Tallinn’s rental market

Newly arrived refugees face problems when looking for long-term accommodation in the capital as locals do not want to rent to them and there is a shortage of cheap apartments, realtors say. And not everybody is welcoming Ukrainians as it was showed on local TVs.

So far more than 28,000 Ukrainians refugees have arrived in Estonia and demand for housing has increased sharply.

Although every applicant should be treated equally, owners prefer locals to refugees, ETV’s evening news show “Aktuaalne kaamera” reported on Friday evening. Prices have also shot up.

A year ago, prices reached record highs on the real estate market and the situation continues today.

Partner at Uus Maa Nord real estate agency Indrek Peedo said the price of rental apartments is increasing by 20 to 30 percent due to high demand.

“If I look at the website, I can see that in Mustamäe, for example, there are 30 two-room apartments for rent today, which is actually very few,” he told AK.

A year ago there were twice as many vacant apartments, partly driven by the coronavirus crisis. Now, the majority of available apartments cost more than €1,000 a month to rent which neither refugees nor locals can easily afford.

When cheaper apartments are advertised they are almost immediately snapped up, VM Real Estate management board member Andres Sutt told AK.

The most in-demand apartments are those priced around €450 a month, but they are very rare. A newly built one-room apartment in the suburb of Õismäe costs €650.

Peedo confirmed this. He said an apartment online for less than 24 hours had already attracted a lot of attention. “So, in reality, the interest is very high in reality,” said Peedo.

Currently, over half of the people looking for apartments are war refugees but landlords prefer to rent to locals.

“First of all, they are afraid that their solvency will not be equal to Estonian people’s, and they are afraid of what will happen after if they accidentally fail to pay for rent or services,” said Peedo.

The government is trying to alleviate landlords’ fears by giving refugees a monthly subsistence benefit.

“It is currently €900, if the Riigikogu adopts an increase in the subsistence level, it will rise to €1200,” said Kert Valdaru, the head of the Social Insurance Board’s social protection crisis group.

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