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Renters in Sweden struggle to make ends meet

TT/David Landes · 8 Jul 2009, 08:33

Published: 08 Jul 2009 08:33 GMT+02:00

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Sweden’s Social Insurance Agency (Försäkringskassan) reports it has received 30,000 more applications for housing supplements (bostadstillägg) and housing allowances (bostadsbidrag) so far this year than during the same period in 2008, the Hem och Hyra magazine reports.

The bulk of the rise in applications comes from pensioners seeking housing supplements, which are housing supports reserved for people living on a fixed income such as a pension or disability payments.

Applications for housing allowances, which are offered to people between 18- and 28-years-old, have increased by 7,000.

“Earlier we saw a decrease in applications during the summer months, but we’re not seeing that now,” the agency’s Pekka Kairento told the magazine.

At the same time, new figures from the Swedish Enforcement Agency (Kronofogden) show that the number of evictions so far in 2009 has increased from the figure reported for the same period last year.

The agency reports that about 1,500 hundred tenants, about eight per day, have been forced to leave their homes so far this year.

Close to 200 of those evicted are between 18- and 25-years-old, Sveriges Radio (SR) reports.

“Evictions are increasing among young people today. It’s due naturally to an increase in youth unemployment, but we’ve also have a view among young people whereby they don’t prioritize their rent and instead just assume everything will work out,” said Rickard Stenberg from Insolvens, a national support group for the indebted, to SR.

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“Unfortunately, you then learn the hard way that things don’t work out.”

Stenberg also attributes the increase in evictions to the dwindling patience of landlords in the face of long queues for rental apartments in Sweden’s large cities.

TT/David Landes (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

11:19 July 8, 2009 by jacqui_anderson
I think this article gives very weak statistical support for its claims that young people are struggling most with increased rents. I am not saying this is not the case, however this article fails to convince me. Giving a raw number like 200 out of 1500 default renters says nothing about the number defaulting in comparison to total renters in the age group and in fact 200 seems a small proportion of the total defaulting, considering that there should be a comparitvely larger total number of renters in this age group, compared to say 45-60 yr olds.

I once again stress that I am sure young people are suffering with high rent, though I am unsure if it is a more significant issue in this age group, than in say 29-35, for example, and if this is what the article is trying to say, then get some decent stats.
11:53 July 8, 2009 by RoyceD
Rather than evict someone who is struggling with their rent, why not offer a budgeting service? Isn't the issue about preventing people from reaching the point of eviction?

Housing in Stockholm is embarrassing. We are expected to pay huge proportions of our monthly wage to live in small boxes. It makes no sense that the rents in this city are so high, the housing market is insanely over priced and in my opinion it all comes down to the culture of land ownership here in Sweden. It cripples the economy here while making a small percentage of the population very rich.
14:45 July 8, 2009 by jimmyjames
"RoyceD" I agreewith alot of what you state. Over the coarse of my life I've lived all over the USA and in various parts of the world, everywhere it is the same. A minority of people control a very finite resoarce, rental housing. The owners of said property basically extort payment from working people who nave no choice. I've never understood government attitude regarding housing. The governments of the world would never allow cartels to monopolize food or water, however they seem to feel electricity and housing are somehow not a basic survival commodity therefore ripe for economic exploitation. Until the citizens of the world take it to the streets like they did in Iran recently no injustices anywhere will ever be resolved. NO JUSTICE - NO PEACE, NO JUSTICE - NO PEACE, NO JUSTICE - NO PEACE !!!!!!!!!
19:16 July 8, 2009 by Donut
Sweden's major cities are cheap for housing compared to any other major international city (London, Paris, Milan, New York etc). Rents are suppressed as there is basically no free market for rental in apartments. Looks cheap all round.
21:25 July 8, 2009 by jarvinho
This is great news. The more people are evicted or have betalningsanmärkingingar, the closer I come to the top of the queue!
21:40 July 8, 2009 by Pigeons Can't Fly Without Wings.
Aww! Poor people in Sweden where the rents are between 2500-6500 for a 1-3 bedroom flat, with a large kitchen, balcony and living room. It must be tough! Especially considering they might have to pay around 650 kronor for a travel card which you can use on all public transport 24h a day. Considering you might earn around 16 000-22 000 a month on an unskilled work it must be so hard!

Thank God for London. I mean I earn around 18500 kronor a month, the rent for the bedroom is 9700 kronor + bills and I pay around 2900 to get to and from work each month. If I decide to go to central London or visit a friend, that is of course not included in that price...
22:12 July 8, 2009 by mkvgtired
I'm struggling too. I make ~ 20,000 Kronor per month. My rent for a Studio (200 square meters) apartment in Chicago is ~8000 Kroner. Housing is a very expensive fact of life. For those of you complaining about the "land owning" class, why don't you work on becoming one of them. My dad, myself, and my brother just purchased a building in a much cheaper part of the state I live in that has two store fronts and what will be 2 apartments upstairs. We are by no means wealthy but saved up our money for the down payment. Obviously problems can occur, but I am sure the people who are benefiting from the rent payments didn't get there by playing it safe and complaining.
22:40 July 8, 2009 by Donut
200 sq m or 200 sq ft = 20 sq m?
23:30 July 8, 2009 by RoyceD
Hi Pigeons Can't Fly Without Wings and mkvgtired, unfortunately I don't follow what you guys are saying here. Are you saying that it is ok for a small percentage of the population to exploit another group of citizens based purely on their ability to afford a building? Because to me that type of system sounds pretty messed up.

But that is what the subject is here. Are the ancient views on land ownership outdated? Can we do better than this? Can we free our children from the same enslavement to the "landlord" and the banks???
00:32 July 9, 2009 by 7
did you read the article? it included an explanation that a number of the people getting evicted chose to prioritize other things to pay for including non-essentials because they ignored the problem they had. how do you budget for people who don't think they share the responsibility to pay their own rent?

with rent both controlled and subsidized i'm not sure what you'd consider would be a fair proportion of your wage for housing. one-third seems a relatively reasonable number to me. i'm also not sure what size box you think is fair. there is excellent public transportation to the greater stockholm community where anyone can find very comfortable housing at the forest's edge. is affordable commuting also some sort of modern evil?

are they? i think the rents are dirt cheap especially considering they include heating, water and laundry. electricity, cable, phone and internet are your own costs.

you know that a significant chunk of rental units belong to the public at large?

who's getting rich on property rentals? i mean that very seriously.

the citizens own a good part of the buildings.

what enslavement?
06:47 July 9, 2009 by Harding00
I live in Northern Sweden, in the city of Piteå. It's a small city, with about 22,000 people (42,000 in the whole municipality) and I pay very little for rent. Granted that Piteå is a small city (big town?) really far north. I live in a 37 square meter (398 sf) studio with my girlfriend and we only pay 2780 kronor ($350) a month. And that includes the rent, heat, water, electricity, and basic cable. The only utility we pay for is internet. And we are right in town, a grocery store across the street and a small mall two minutes walk away. (I don't have a balcony though, too bad). I don't think I could have found a cheaper place in the US, even in my small hometown of 6,000 people. Our apartment (and 52% of all apartments in Piteå) is/are owned by the municipality. I think that's why the rent is low, because it is not a private capitalist trying to make all the money he/she can.
09:09 July 9, 2009 by GITM
You have no idea what you are talking about do you? Try moving somewhere really expensive. With high rents. Like 1/2 to 2/3rds of take home pay, for a professional wage. And FWIW the culture of "land ownership" here is decades behind some countries.

Exploitation? Enslavement? , just move if you don't like it. Exploitation is Over 12000 SEK a month for a room in a shared house in a fairly grotty bit of London. (and it was, not so long ago, the going rate if you wanted to be within a kilometre of any sort of facilities!).

Enslavement, i don't even know where to start with that one... i'd suggest you start with a dictionary, and when you have the hang of that, an encyclopedia.
10:39 July 9, 2009 by Kieruk
Instead of complaining about living in Stolkholm, why not move out??

It is way cheaper to live outside...and the public transport is cheap and good!

Spending one third of a monthly wage on rent IS NOT EXPENSIVE!
13:42 July 10, 2009 by Petalpusher
i think we can all agree that the rental system in sweden is the worst of its kind. the idiotic government doesn't build enough houses, we have a long queue, and the black rental market is as bad gun market i bet.

until this government gets its head out of its butt, we're all screwed.
18:53 July 10, 2009 by odinmp5
for the crybabys, move out of stockholm, and rent only the space you need in a cheaper but nicer place.

compared to many other major countries around the world, sweden offers high quality housing for much less.
16:12 July 12, 2009 by conboy
I agree with your last point in terms of value for money the quality of appartments here is far in excess of more expensive appartments in crazyily inflated housing market places such as the UK and the Republic of Ireland.
01:01 September 8, 2009 by bunibu
I live in a working class area of Sydney Australia and I pay 9600 kr monthly for rent. It seems that rental cost in Sweden is relatively cheap.. what is the average monthly rent for Stockholm and Gothenburg?
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