The Housing Shortage

After the Revolution, private ownership of real estate was abolished. New laws came into effect governing who could live where. The situation was particularly complicated in the cities, where landowners fled and many people moved to the cities. The resulting housing crunch has effectively lasted to this day. Housing authorities were set up to determine who should live where. Most apartment buildings had a Housing Committee headed by a House Manager.

Any apartment deemed too large for its previous tenant, if the tenant was lucky enough to be allowed to remain, was forcibly shared with whoever the Housing Committee authorized to move in. Sometimes large apartments and private houses were remodeled into several smaller apartments. Other apartments were simply shared. For example, a three room apartment that belonged to one family would now by decree become a three room apartment for three families. Kitchen, hall, and bathroom were shared. Often there would be resentment between the various families living in one communal apartment, especially if one of the families was the original owner, and especially if all families continued to live together for years.

Bulgakov wrote a satire of the housing shortage in his short novel Heart of a Dog.

In later years people got around restrictions through apartment exchanges.