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The interior of one of the rooms of the Sushkins’ apartment in the building of the insurance company “Russia” on Sretensky Boulevard. Author N. Sushkin. 1907-1910 years. Main Archive of Moscow

In the funds of the Moscow Main Archive, documents have been preserved that tell how the housing issue in the capital was solved until 1917.

From the second half of the 19th century, due to the rapid development of industry in Moscow, a massive population growth began. A huge number of people poured into earnings, and everyone needed housing. In the funds of the Moscow Glavarchive, information has been preserved about how the housing issue in the capital was resolved until 1917.

Already at the beginning of the twentieth century, rental housing in the city was in great demand. The main apartments that were rented out were service apartments (as a rule, the state paid for them or allocated money to pay for them), apartments at trade establishments (mainly for employees in these establishments), lodgings and bed-and-dorms. One of the most popular types of housing were bed-and-bed apartments. They were home to artisans, factory workers, families of domestic servants, merchants, day laborers. The emergence of this type of housing was natural: a small income did not allow many to rent even a separate room, let alone an apartment. At the same time, there were also more prosperous townspeople, for whom, due to their occupation, a separate apartment was necessary, but the rent was unbearable. In such cases, the townspeople first rented the entire apartment, and then rented out corners or beds to others: the owner himself, his family, tenants, were placed on bunks that were not fenced off from each other and only occasionally closed with canopies. Sometimes the rooms in the house were divided into separate rooms – closets, and the apartment turned into a closet. There was also a combined version, when both closets and bunks were rented.

Accommodation for the poorest residents of Moscow was in overnight apartments. Guests could stay in them only at night, during the day they were not allowed to stay there.

According to the Glavarkhiv, in 1898 the Moscow City Government surveyed all the capital’s premises. It was found that 108,315 apartments were inhabited in the city, among them 71,122 premises were allocated for rented apartments. There were several times less service housing – 12,456 apartments. About 10,000 apartments belonged to homeowners, the rest were reserved for so-called public dormitories, including barracks and hotels. This means that rented apartments accounted for almost 70 percent of the total number of occupied dwellings.

The situation changed radically after the entry of the Russian Empire into the First World War in 1914. Over the year, apartment prices rose so sharply that the commander of the Moscow Military District, General of Artillery Iosif Mrozovsky, on November 3, 1915, issued a mandatory decree “On Apartments”, which forbade landlords to raise their rent. The decree was preserved in the materials of the Glavarchiv.

At that time, great importance was attached to control over those who live in Moscow. Since martial law has been declared in the city, the rules for registering and registering residents have tightened. A number of mandatory decrees were issued that regulated the rules for living and renting apartments. For example, now tenants of houses had to keep books to record residents: their family members, servants, guests, as well as those to whom they rented premises that they did not use themselves. These books included information about all residents over 15 years old. At the same time, a separate article was set up for each, which indicated the name, surname, origin or type of his activity, as well as the place where he came from and where he left. In addition, the owners of hotels and inns also kept special daily books for recording those who stay with them during the day.

Such rules were in effect in Moscow until 1917.

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EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is a translation. Apologies should the grammar and or sentence structure not be perfect.

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