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Census shows 700,000 German flats lack loos

Published: 11 Jun 2013 07:40 GMT+02:00

Some 1.7 percent of Germany's 41.3 million flats lack the most basic of facilities, according to 2011 census data released by the federal statistics office at the end May.

Most residents of these dwellings have to go without either toilet or a bath in their homes, and those living in 330,000 of those flats must make do without either, wrote the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on Monday.

Although most of the flats are in the former East Germany, experts were surprised to find that 1.5 percent of apartments in the prosperous Bavarian capital of Munich also lacked standard sanitation.

Antiquated heating systems were also surprisingly widespread, said the paper, with residents of 2.5 million German apartments found to rely solely on coal or wood-fired ovens for heat through what are often long, icy winters. A further 200,000 dwellings had no heating of any kind, census data revealed.

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The census, which measured the number and living conditions of people in Germany on May 9, 2011, showed that 1.5 million fewer people live in the country than the previously assumed population of 81.7 million.

Yet confusingly, the census also showed there were also 500,000 more flats in the country than previously thought, leading some to wonder how urgent Germany's current housing shortage can really be.

The apparent contradiction is down to two factors, Rolf Kornemann, president of the Haus & Grund home owners' association told the paper.

First of all, too many of these flats can be dismissed as “junk properties,” deemed uninhabitable by many for a lack of sanitation or heating, and are often left empty when a long-term tenant moves out.

Secondly, said Kornemann, immigration and the resulting demand for housing has been shown to vary massively from region to region.

According to census figures, 4.4 percent of all German flats are currently standing empty - but regionally this figure ranges from 1.5 percent of flats in Hamburg to over 10 percent in the eastern cities of Chemnitz, Leipzig and Halle.

Germany has seen 400,000 net immigrants enter the country since the census in 2011, the vast majority of whom headed to the bigger, wealthier cities in search of work, Kornemann told the paper.

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