Moderates in u-turn on rent controls

Sweden's ruling Moderate Party has dropped its aim of axing Sweden's strict rent controls on apartments and replacing them with market rents.

The party’s parliamentary group leader, Lars Lindblad, said market rents were now off the agenda. “We are closing down that discussion,” he said.

In a proposal to be put to the party conference later this month, the leadership says the current rent control system “is an important protection for tenants against unreasonable rent increases,” he said.

Supporters of rent controls say they prevent segregation between rich and poor areas, with affordable apartments even in rich parts of the city. Opponents say that the system creates a black market in the swapping of rental contracts, and point to the fact that segregation exists despite the rent controls.

Lindblad admitted that the new policy was a change of direction.

“We have previously said that market rents could be something for the long term. This has sent negative signals to the public. Some might have feared what the Moderates would do in government. This is why we’re making a clear stand,” he said.

Market rents are a sensitive political question. The Moderates made no manifesto promises to introduce them, but their silence on the issue has allowed the opposition to claim that the government intended to introduce them.

Lindblad said he thought that the current rent control system worked, particularly after changes introduced after negotiations between property owners and tenants’ groups.

“We think the parties have moved forwards. Location is now reflected to a greater extent, so there is a difference in price between living in the city centre and in the outskirts,” he said.

He underlined that his party did not want to “bring about uncontrolled rent rises.”

“We don’t want to create a system which makes it impossible for people on lower incomes to live in the city centre,” he said.

Properties in Sweden