People in the suburbs ‘should jump housing queue’

People living municipal housing in Stockholm's suburbs should be allowed to jump the queue for apartments in other areas, the woman in charge of the city's housing policies has said.

Moderate politician Kristina Alvendal wrote in Dagens Nyheter that she wants to free up the city’s housing market.

Currently, apartments in suburbs built as part of the Million Homes Programme in the 1960s and 1970s are often viewed as less attractive and are harder to fill, while apartments in other suburbs and in the city centre are in high demand.

Alvendal points out that queue time for rental apartments in certain suburbs is three years, while the wait for apartments in some parts of the city centre is thirty years.

“This makes it impossible for many to find a home that suits their taste and budget,” she wrote.

The way the municipality plans to solve this problem is to introduce a queue bonus for people who take an apartment in the suburbs. People renting an apartment in the suburbs from a city housing company would be able to double their notional queue time, thereby jumping the waiting list.

This would mean that if a tenant in a suburban apartment had been waiting for two years, they would be treated as though they had been waiting for four years.

“This is essentially all about flexibility. Greater flexibility creates greater accessibility. This is what the Social Democrats’ housing policies have failed to achieve.

“A large number of regulations in which location is given little weight has in practice led to people in the suburbs are subsidizing rents for people in the centre. This means that people with apartments in the centre do not give them up and the market stagnates,” she wrote.

Alvendal, who did not give a time plan for specific reforms, also called for a more diversified rental market with more cheap apartments with lower standards. There is a great demand for these, she argued, not least among the young.

She also argued that people should be able to buy their apartments individually. Currently, people wanting to buy their apartments have to team up with neighbours to buy the entire apartment block. The collective owning the block can then block members from renting out their apartments.

Allowing people to own apartments would make it easier for people to rent out their homes and would “add another dimension to the rental market, in a similar way to that which exists in many other countries,” Alvensal said.