Persson and Steen ‘jump housing queue’

Getting a rental apartment in Stockholm is less about how much you can afford to pay, it's more about who your friends are. And if you're the former prime minister, you know people in all the right places.

While many others have to wait in lines for up to twenty years, Göran Persson and his wife, Systembolaget CEO Anitra Steen, have been offered a secure tenancy – a so-called first-hand contract – on a rental apartment in central Stockholm by property company Wallenstam, Dagens Industri reports.

Wallenstam spokesman Ulf Ek said that the company had abolished its waiting list because it was too much work to administer. He said that half the company’s apartments are handed over to people on Stockholm’s city waiting list. The other apartments are rented out to whomever the company sees fit.

“You don’t get better tenants than the prime minister and the head of Systembolaget,” he said.

Ek said that while it was true that Persson’s ex-finance minister Erik Åsbrink was on the company’s board, the main criteria had been that Steen, in whose name the apartment is to be rented, was a reliable customer with sound finances.

Sweden’s system of strict rent controls and other property regulations means that it can be difficult for people moving to the big cities to rent an apartment. The council’s housing waiting list contains over 170,000 people. The average waiting time for a one-bedroom apartment in Södermalm is 16 years.

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