2020.08.11 10:43

Balcony collapse in Vilnius draws attention to dilapidated Soviet-era housing stock

LRT TV, LRT.lt2020.08.11 10:43

Administrators of Soviet-era apartment buildings in Vilnius will be asked to inspect their structural integrity after a balcony collapsed in one of the buildings last Friday.

A two-ton chunk of a concrete balcony split off and fell down from the 15th floor of the building in the Lazdynai district of Vilnius. No people were harmed, but balconies of lower floors were seriously damaged.

A preliminary inspection suggested that iron supports of the balcony railing had corroded. Windows installed by the owners without permission may have undermined the structures even further.

Built in the 1970s, much of the housing stock in Lazdynai, as well as the rest of Soviet-era apartment blocks in Vilnius and Lithuania, is in poor condition and may require major structural upgrades, construction experts say.

Other balconies in the same building also display cracks that make them a serious hazard, Vytautas Elenbergas, a building expert, has told LRT TV.

There may be around 2,000 balconies in need of upgrades throughout Vilnius, but the municipal authorities insist it is the responsibility of the residents, since the apartments are privately owned.

“The residents themselves led to the situation where the balcony collapsed and the owners should understand [...] that it is their responsibility,” Eglė Šlajūtė, of Vilnius Municipality, told LRT TV.

However, the authorities said they were planning to obligate the companies managing the buildings to inspect their balconies and other structural elements that may be hazardous.

The damage done by the collapsed balcony in Lazdynai has been estimated at 80,000 euros. Repair works will have to be paid for by the residents.