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Sweden looks to make subletting flats easier

Sweden is looking at loosening current restrictions facing flat owners who want to sublet their apartments in an effort to help ease the current housing crunch in large cities.

Sweden looks to make subletting flats easier

Currently, owners of tenant-owner apartment (bostadsrättlägenhet) in Sweden must first request permission from the board of the local housing association (bostadsrättsföreningen) before subletting a flat.

Furthermore, flat owners aren’t free to charge whatever rent they’d like to prospective tenants, but instead can only charge what is considered “reasonable” rather than a rent that is in light with actual costs of ownership.

But a government inquiry submitted to housing minister Stefan Attefall on Thursday suggests that rules be changed to allow flat owners to set rents as they see fit.

The inquiry also suggests scrapping the need for owners to seek approval from their housing association before subletting.

“The housing shortage can’t be built away overnight. We need therefore to make use of the housing we already have in a smarter way by creating a clear and transparent sublet market which works for both those who rent out [their flats] and those who rent,” Attefall said in a statement.

The findings come from an inquiry launched in December 2011 in order to look at what sort of changes could be made to the residential rental market in Sweden in order to encourage people to rent out their homes.

Another measure included in the inquiry is a shortening of the notice period tenants are required to give their landlord before they plan to move out.

It is hoped that the proposed changes will make subletting more attractive to apartment owners, who may then be moved to rent out their flats to others who find it harder to enter the housing market by obtaining a first-hand rental contract of by purchasing a home of their own.

It remains unclear, however, exactly how many un- or under-utilized apartments may exist that could more easily be rented out once the proposed changes are enacted.

“We’ve looked at a study from the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce from 2010. That showed there to be a decent potential in Stockholm. But other sources look less promising,” said Per Anders Bergendahl, who led the inquiry, to the TT news agency.

“There is still a side market where there are no contacts and the rents charged are very high.”

In order to prevent increased speculative investment in residential real estate, the inquiry also proposes capping the length of time a flat can be sublet to five years, at which time flat owners would be required to wait another two years before subletting their flats again.

TT/The Local/dl

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