At least 1,200 people are living in illegal rooms and apartments in company buildings with poor fire protection in Iceland’s capital region, according to a report undertaken by the Capital Region Fire Department.
“It’s like it was during the depression. It took decades to get people out of moldy basements and down from cold attics and provide appropriate housing for a large group of people,” Fire Department preventive unit director Bjarni Kjartansson told 24 Stundir.
“Now a large number of people live under absolutely unacceptable conditions. It’s like we’ve traveled 50 years back in time,” Kjartansson said.
Fire protection is lacking in many of these illegal apartments but because they are illegal, the Fire Department cannot demand improvements. “If we had done so as an institution belonging to the municipalities, we would have been agreeing to illegal use of housing,” explained Marshal Jón Vidar Matthíasson.
Last spring, law amendments were made so that the Fire Department could take action, but they were not sufficient. They will be inspecting the illegal housing next week in cooperation with local authorities.
“The buildings that are in unacceptable condition will have to be closed and the local authorities will have to decide what to do next,” Kjartansson said.