• Sweden's news in English

Eight-year wait for a home in Stockholm

14 Jan 2013, 07:55

Published: 14 Jan 2013 07:55 GMT+01:00

Last year, 400,000 people were signed up and waiting for an apartment in the nation's capital, 9 percent more than in 2011 and roughly double the figure from 2006.

The average wait for a house in the region also shot up to 8.5 years - or 15 years for those who prefer to live centrally. The central island Kungsholmen has an average waiting time of 17 years.

These statistics come fresh from Stockholm's municipal housing queue, run by Stockholms Stads Bostadsförmedling AB.

Maria Nordlöf of Bostadsförmedling explained that the city's housing scheme is a whole different game from 10 to 20 years ago when it was possible to find a home in the centre of Stockholm.

"If you're looking for a rental apartment, you should consider the entire Stockholm region," she told the Svenska Dagbladet newspaper (SvD).

Further outside the centre of the Stockholm region, in areas such as Huddinge, Upplands Väsby, Järfälla or Botkyrka, the average waiting time dropped to six years.

But living outside of the city is no solution, according to Lina Glans, CEO of the Jagvillhabostad.nu ("I need a house now") website and lobbyist for increased housing in the nation's capital.

"The situation is extremely frustrating and affects a whole generation," she told the paper.

She stated that many people can't begin a real life as an adult until they have a stable housing situation in the same area as their work.

"That young people can't live where all the work is will affect Sweden's future development and growth."

Story continues below…

Despite the extensive waiting times and long list of housing hopefuls, only 1,700 new homes were built in Stockholm last year.

TT/The Local/og

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Your comments about this article

10:02 January 14, 2013 by azimuth
Sweden's problem #1.... I doubt it will be ever solved though.
11:41 January 14, 2013 by Meridiean
"Despite the extensive waiting times and long list of housing hopefuls, only 1,700 new homes were built in Stockholm last year."

12:55 January 14, 2013 by jsegel
Many articles about this in the papers, none explain why.

Why? Well, the "moderate" government of the past 6 years wanted to privatize everything. SO they sold an entire service of state owned rentals... to whom? Well, some people living in them were able to get loans to buy their apartments, but most are now owned by large corporate land owning companies.

The result is that with the remaining ownership passing to the large companies as of this year, literally half of the rentals are now gone. Many places we have been looking at are now only for sale, no rental available. My wife has been on "the list" for 6 years now, and we've approached being number 2 or 3 a couple of times in our area, but now we're stuck again. And with her being a student (she starts school again this month, now that our daughter is 18 months old) we don't qualify for being able to rent from the private companies that now own most of the apartments.

So we continue to live with her parents in their apartment. All of us.
13:32 January 14, 2013 by engagebrain
As jsegel points out many flats are now in the hands of the for profit sector, who have no actual interest in providing decent homes at affordable rents, in fact their interests are the exact opposite, waiting lists are ideal and rents will be pushed up, maintenance will be reduced.

The other killer is subletting, the long waiting times are for primary rental contractsbut illegal rentals from primary tenants who have moved out, but won't give up their flats, can are readily available. Elliminate or reduce secondary rentals and waiting times will fall - it is not just about expensively building new flats.
13:35 January 14, 2013 by azimuth
The problem is not solely because of the private companies owning the apartments. It is a more complex problem. One of the reason is that the first-hand contract holders do not want to lose their contracts and sublet the apartments illegally/unofficially. This leads to the shortage of apartments available for rent. This is a vicious circle as they are afraid to give up their contracts because of the accommodation shortage which is caused by them not giving up the contracts and so on.

'Why don't they build enough new housing?' - I would like to know the answer as well as it is very unusual and against the market laws that they don't build while there is a huge demand for housing. I'm quite sure that every apartment in newly built housing would be sold far before the end of construction (as it happens to all nyproduktion housing nowadays).
16:20 January 14, 2013 by eppie
Stockholm has set some rules for the area covered by houses, roads and green.....which is a good thing it keeps the city livable.

Of course in a growing capital there will be more and more people wanting to live in the center and not everybody can.....which is the same anywhere in the world.

Also if you can buy a 60m2 apartment in Östermalm for say 3.5 MSEk it is also not faire to be able to rent a similar apartment for 6000SEK/month.

The big issue is that having waiting times of say 10 years is not a sensible thing......if you are going to work in Stockholm you need something now.....not in 10years. Now it is just parents putting their infants on the list so that when they are 18 they have an apartment.....even if they would work in Göteborg. So the idea of being very fair and social (so that not only the rich can live in town) is just not working....it favours people that put their names on the list early and doesn't care about if they really need the apartment or not.

And the moderates plan that jsegel desrcibed was indeed just to make some people that were lucky enough to rent an apartment happy by giving them the chance to buy their apartment for half the market value....talk about fairness.
20:01 January 14, 2013 by johan rebel
Just about the most over-regulated and dysfunctional housing market anywhere.
21:51 January 14, 2013 by engagebrain
johan rebel - for a much more dysfunctional housing market, try London.

In London rents are reaching 40-50% of incomes and buying property on a normal income is essentially impossible. Most of the decent social housing in London was sold off long ago and the current plans are basically to deport the unemployed.

But London is a dream if your are seriously rich, although the local rich are beginning to complain that the international rich and driving prices too high.

Stockholm could be saved.
22:05 January 14, 2013 by Bushyblondehead
I hate trying to find a decent place to live!
22:24 January 14, 2013 by ragdoll
To the guy whining that the rentals have been turned into apartments for sale, why don't you just buy one? Is it because you can't afford it? Well, your wife doesn't work, you have an 18 month old kid...maybe you just aren't generating enough revenue to live inside one of the most expensive cities in the world! Maybe you have to live with relatives until you can afford the lifestyle you seem to want. Many people don't have relatives to live with so you are luckier than many. If you want something bad enough go earn it and stop waiting for your lucky number to come in.
00:50 January 15, 2013 by Enjoyourlife
It is a very difficult situation. You cannot begin a family because of accomodation. I know couples living in a single room with kitchenette. Some with a child. It is fairly easy for assylum seekers to get accomodation. I don't why. If people were not renting out rooms in their apartment, the situation could have been worst. That is how I lived, before moving to a student accomodation and finally to my own plat. Thank God the student housing company has regular apartments that students can switch too. it is pretty faster.
05:30 January 15, 2013 by jotge
I'm looking at pictures of Stockholm... Swedes: Where are your hi-rises and skyscrapers?!?! Why have you harmed yourselves like this by banning them?
09:45 January 15, 2013 by ann2
There is a certain unrealism here in the area of where to live and the length of commute. Commuting for an hour or more in the states isn't considered such a big deal, and of course the tradition of school buses (my school bus trip took an hour, plus it arrived at school 45 minutes early) makes the school no longer a factor. Here it's a must to live near the school and have a 20 min or less commute. We live in Tyresö and it's great.
10:29 January 15, 2013 by rramirez
This headline is misleading. There is no 8 year wait for apartments in Stockholm. We bought a place last year and moved in two months later. There is a 8 year wait for people who want to pay less than what their apartment is worth. Any surprise? Basically, these people want to live off what amounts to a never ending groupon. At least that's what it amounts to in Stockholm. This whole rental system was designed to deny market forces and that is something that is next to impossible to maintain over the long term. Now its breaking down. Eventually inefficiencies will set in and these inefficiencies will grow into gross inefficiencies. The fact is wealthier people get to live in nicer locations, eat in better restaurants, take fancier vacations, etc. If you try to ration off a handful of these benefits to people who can't afford them you will get massive lines almost by definition.

I have in laws who had a rent control in Malmo and wanted a rent control in Stockholm. So they had to find someone with a rent control in Stockholm who wanted one in Malmo. The whole devious process took forever, there was cash on the side and all kinds of nonsense just so they both could keep these artificially low rents. They have plenty of money they're just cheap pricks. And they don't even live in Stockholm, they just keep that place for weekends. The system might have started with good intentions, but it just leads to manipulation because its entire premise is to deny the reality of the market.
16:52 January 15, 2013 by Polish-Finnish Swede
The rental apartment market is over-regulated and dysfunctional as mentioned above. Basically, rents (not so for sublets) in the city center are not higher than rent for similar size apartments in the suburbs. Private companies are not likely to build rental apartments on expensive properties unless they are allowed to get market rent. The other option would be to spend tax money on apartments with low rent. Public transport in Stockholm is reasonably good in Stockholm. Unlike Lina Glans I think young people can take the bus/metro to work just like thousands of other commuters.
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