The unseen side of depopulation in Lithuania

Irma Janauskaitė & Jovita Gaižauskaitė:

Every year, the Lithuanian state sells hundreds of properties whose owners have passed away without any heirs. These include prime real estate in central Vilnius as well as low-value homes in the provinces. Part of the reason is Lithuania’s deteriorating demographic situation, says a researcher.

Miroslavas, an employee of the state property management fund Turto Bankas, shows around an apartment in one of Vilnius’ residential neighbourhoods. Its owner has recently passed away and, in the absence of a will and close relatives, it has been taken over by the state,

“The apartment is already being appraised,” he says.

The Lithuanian state thus “inherits” about 400 apartments, houses, garages, warehouses, garden sheds and other pieces of real estate every year. In one-third of the cases, the properties are co-owned with other people.

Mindaugas Sinkevičius, the head of Turto Bankas, says that such properties are usually located in the countryside, although occasionally he comes across some prime real estate.