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Europe’s housing crisis: Portugal, Turkey, and Luxembourg struggle to find solutions

Rents and purchase prices are increasingly unaffordable and a factor of exclusion in this country with the reputation of a European Eldorado
Rents and purchase prices are increasingly unaffordable and a factor of exclusion in this country with the reputation of a European Eldorado Copyright SIMON WOHLFAHRT/AFP or licensors
Copyright SIMON WOHLFAHRT/AFP or licensors
By Joanna AdhemAFP
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Over recent years, housing crises have become increasingly prevalent across Europe, affecting nations of varying economic health. Portugal, Turkey, and even wealthy Luxembourg are grappling with the common challenge of providing affordable and accessible housing for their citizens.

Portugal's youth homeownership plunge:

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In Portugal, the homeownership rate among young people has plummeted by 50% over two generations.

While 55% of those born between 1977 and 1986 owned homes by the age of 25, just over a quarter of those born after 1997 have managed to do so.

This decline can be attributed to a real estate crisis, resulting in an 8.7% surge in house prices prices over the past decade.

Despite Portugal's relatively high homeownership rate of 70%, it's primarily driven by older generations, leaving the younger population struggling to afford homes.

Citizens are calling for the government to implement measures such as financial assistance for first-time buyers, the construction of more affordable housing and building up derelict areas.

Turkey's renting woes:

Rent hikes in Turkey have become so steep in the past year that they have led to violence between landlords and tenants, with the media reporting 11 deaths and 46 injuries.

Rents have soared by an average of 121% over the past year, and in big cities such as Ankara and Istanbul, they have surged by as much as 188 %.

This is due to many factors, including a cost-of-living crisis, high inflation, and an influx of displaced people from the devastating earthquake that struck the country in February.

The government has capped property rent increases at 25% for households, and aligned them with the official inflation rate for businesses.

However, experts say the measures have only heightened tensions, prompting many landlords to use any means - including illegal ones - to evict tenants and find new ones ready to pay higher prices.

Around 47,000 eviction trials and 100,000 others concerning illegal rent increases opened in the first six months of this year, more than double in the same period of 2022, according to Turkish media.

Even wealthy Luxembourg faces housing strife:

Luxembourg's residents may be classified as the wealthiest in the European Union, but the sky-high cost of buying or renting a home in the country has made living there nearly impossible for some.

Pascale Zaourou, a teacher and mother of three children, had to wait five years before being able to access coveted social housing.

"On the private market, renting an apartment with two rooms costs at least €2,000 - it's difficult with only one income," she told AFP at a recent demonstration in Luxembourg City.

"Affordable housing is scarce, especially for young people and single-parent families," she said.

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Antoine Paccoud, a researcher at the Housing Observatory, which compiles data guiding government policy, backed up that sentiment.

"More and more Luxembourgers are crossing the border to live in Germany, Belgium or France just because rents and property prices are lower," he said.

In the capital city, new-build flats sell for €13,000 per square metre and older ones go for €10,700. The average cost of a house is €1.5 million.

Rents increased by 6.7% between June 2022 and June 2023, much faster than the inflation rate of 3.4% over that period.

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The housing crisis has become the top issue in the upcoming legislative elections in Luxembourg. Both major political parties have pledged to take action to address the issue.

Watch the video above to learn more about the European housing crisis.

Video editor • Joanna Adhem

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