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70% of us live in a bigger home than we need, report says
Seven out of 10 people in Belgium live in a home that is too big for them, according to a new study by the Institute for Sustainable Development.
The report's definition of too big is when the number of habitable rooms (bedrooms and living rooms, excluding kitchens and bathrooms) is greater than the number of occupants.
At 70%, the rate of under-occupation of Belgian properties has been stable in recent years. It is most common among over-65s (86.3% have more space than they need) and twice as likely among property owners than tenants.
"Under-occupation is a real phenomenon that exists and it needs to be discussed by politicians," said the report's author, Philippe Defeyt. He says more should be done to encourage people to downsize - such as the building of more homes suitable for elderly people.
According to the report, under-occupation is just as prevalent in the social housing sector, which is a challenge for policy-makers. "It's unfortunate that some older people live alone in social housing with two or three bedrooms while there are families with children on the waiting list," Defeyt added.