The furnished room dilemma

By Misch Pautsch Switch to German for original article

The housing market in Luxembourg does not only challenge the population with difficult decisions. The insatiable demand tempts some owners to exploit every square metre - even beyond legal limits. For the people living in those furnished rooms, alternatives are hard to come by. Municipalities face a dilemma: Turn a blind eye and allow people to live in poor conditions? Or show them the door?

"The conditions in which some people have to live in furnished rooms disgust me. In some cases, the ceiling almost literally falls on their heads." Maurice Bauer (CSV), is a magistrate for social affairs in the city of Luxembourg. He says it is not easy for him to see how various flat owners try to "squeeze every last penny of their living space". Furnished rooms are increasingly becoming the only option for people who are looking for accommodation in the Grand Duchy but cannot afford to rent a flat, let alone buy one. A room will have to do for them. Sometimes a temporary solution, the temporary becomes permanent for many. Under the right circumstances, this can be acceptable.

Because in the Luxembourg housing market, where every square metre is hotly contested, solutions are needed. Giorgio Ricciardelli, responsible for the housing department in Differdange, is forced to be pragmatic: "We are aware that the growth of the country puts the municipalities in the situation where we need such rooms. Most owners, private and professional, also fulfil their obligations well and offer a respectable room. In a well-mixed setting, where such rooms are combined with single-family homes and rental flats, it's not a problem at all." However, it can quickly become a problem, if the minimum legal requirements for safety and hygiene are not respected.

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