• Sweden's news in English

The Lowdown: Sweden's new subletting law

31 Jan 2013, 16:14

Published: 31 Jan 2013 16:14 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Starting February 1st, 2013, changes to Sweden's laws governing the subletting of apartments and houses go into effect.

The political debate in the run up to the changes has been heated, and since the laws were approved by the Riksdag in December, speculation has been rampant about what the effects of the changes will be. Some claimed rents for sublets could more than double in some areas.

In order to better understand the changes, The Local caught up with Linn Matic, director of housing policy at HSB, one of Sweden's largest cooperative housing associations, with nearly 450,000 member residents across the country.

What are the key changes to Sweden's subletting laws?

One key change concerns the rent that a property owner can charge a subletting tenant. Under the old rules, the rent that could legally be charged was based on the average rent charged for similar rental apartments (hyresrätter) nearby owned by public or private housing companies. Those rents are set centrally through negotiations between rental-property owners and the Swedish Union of Tenants (Hyresgästföreningen).

But starting February 1st, flat owners can charge rents based on the costs of ownership.

What exactly counts as "cost of ownership"?

According to the new rules, rent charges can cover operating costs and capital costs. Operating costs can include monthly fees paid to the cooperative housing association (bostadsrättsförening), utilities, as well as a premium for wear and tear.

While the law doesn't mention mortgages specifically, property owners are allowed to charge for the "cost of capital", which is at this time considered to be around 4 percent of the market value of the home.

How is market value determined?

If the home was recently purchased, the price paid by the owner can be used as the market value. Alternatively, one can look around at the prices of similar apartments in the neighbourhood and derive market value that way.

What are some more important changes?

The new law also changes how a property owner or the tenant can break the rental contract. Previously, property owners weren't allowed to break the contract, while tenants were required to give three months' notice.

After February 1st, tenants only have to give at least one months' notice if they want to move out of a sublet flat, while property owners who want a tenant to leave must give three months' notice.

SEE ALSO: Photo Gallery - Sweden's 'priciest' house for sale

Also, tenants can't assume that rental contracts are extended automatically and must move out at the end of the contract even if they haven't received any formal notice from the landlord.

So, tenants should make sure to check with property owners at least three months before their current lease is due to expire to avoid any misunderstandings.

What are my options if I think my rent is too high?

Now, as before, tenants who think they are paying too much can file a complaint with the Rental Tribunal (Hyresnämnden).

Previously, if the tribunal ruled in the tenant's favour, the landlord had to lower the rent and pay back up to one year's worth of the amount they had been overcharging. So, if a tenant had been paying 10,000 kronor and the tribunal found that the rent should have been 7,000 kronor, the landlord had to lower the rent to 7,000 kronor and pay back 36,000 kronor in surcharges.

SEE ALSO: Find your next home with The Local’s Rentals Section

After February 1st, however, landlords are no longer obliged to repay the overcharged rent, they simply have to reduce the rent to the level stipulated by the tribunal.

Do the changes affect existing rental contracts? And do they apply to both apartments and houses?

The new subletting laws apply to both houses and apartments, but only come into effect for contracts signed on February 1st and beyond. They also only apply to properties which are owned, rather than rental properites.

The subletting of rental properties (hyresrätter) is covered by Sweden's rental law (hyreslagen).

SEE ALSO: Photo gallery - Sweden's 'smallest' apartment in Lund

Thus, anyone currently subletting needn't worry that the conditions of their lease will suddenly change on February 1st. However, they should review their contract and see when it expires so they are prepared for changes that might take place upon renewal.

What other things should property owners interested in renting out their homes bear in mind with the new law?

Probably the most important thing to remember is that people must still get permission from their local housing association (bostadsrättsförening) before they can sublet an apartment. The government originally wanted to get rid of that condition as well, but it didn't end up as part of the final bill.

SEE ALSO: Check out the latest home listings in The Local’s Property Section

Story continues below…

There are also some new tax deductions associated with renting out one's home. Previously, property owners could deduct 21,000 kronor from the income earned from subletting, but the new law increases that deduction to 40,000 kronor annually. Any income earned above that amount is taxed at a 30-percent tax rate.

So, the big question: how will these changes affect the rents prospective tenants can expect to pay when subletting an apartment in Sweden?

The effects will vary depending on the current difference between rents charged for rental-only apartments and the market value plus operating costs of apartments in the area. In Stockholm and the other big cities, I think it's safe to say that rents will likely go up because the market values are so high.

It will certainly be easier for property owners in Stockholm to justify charging higher rents.

Will the changes encourage more people to sublet and result in more subletting options, as the government hopes?

I think people overestimate the number of vacant apartments available for rent. In Sweden, most people live in their apartments, whereas it's more common in the United States, for example, for people to own a second investment property they own simply to rent to someone else.

It's also important to remember that the changes to the subletting laws only apply to one property. If someone wants to rent out more properties, those apartments must be sublet according to Sweden's rental law.

If anything, I think the new law may mean that people who plan to move in together may wait before selling one of their apartments and instead decide rent it out.

David Landes

Follow David Landes on Twitter

Related links:

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

17:24 February 5, 2013 by henry2
This subletting only put citizens into problems, and abuse. Many will try to make money be using this system, thus asking for rentals too high then any one can afford.Once the signature is placed there will be few regulations to later ask .If any person in in urgent need of a home, he/she will accept any condition, this will give way to abuse. I suggest that contracts will be signed after say a week or more, so tenents has time to look around.
16:35 February 6, 2013 by matressmonkey
This is a great step in the right direction. There is a massive shortage of housing in Stockholm and this will make it attractive for people to rent out their places. The existing system has failed!! That's why there are fifteen year waiting periods!! This new law won't fix everything, but its a beginning.
Today's headlines
Refugee crisis
Asylum requests in Sweden down by 70 percent
Sweden's migration minister Morgan Johansson. Photo: Christine Olsson/TT

Sweden received 70 percent fewer requests for asylum in the period between January and September 2016 than it did during the same time last year, the country’s justice and migration minister Morgan Johansson has revealed.

The unique story of Stockholm's floating libraries
The Stockholm archipelago book boat. Photo: Roger Hill.

Writer Roger Hill details his journeys on the boats that carry books over Stockholm's waterways and to its most remote places.

Refugee crisis
Second Stockholm asylum centre fire in a week
The new incident follows a similar fire in Fagersjö last week (pictured). Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Police suspect arson in the blaze, as well as a similar incident which occurred last Sunday.

More misery for Ericsson as losses pile up
Ericsson interim CEO Jan Frykhammar presenting its third quarter results. Photo: Claudio Bresciani/TT

The bad news just keeps coming from the Swedish telecoms giant.

Facebook 'sorry' for removing Swedish cancer video
A computer displaying Facebook's landing page. Photo: Christine Olsson/TT

The social media giant had censored a video explaining how women should check for suspicious lumps in their breasts.

Watch this amazing footage of Sweden’s landscapes
A still from the aerial footage of Sweden. Photo: Nate Summer-Cook

The spectacular drone footage captures both Sweden's south and the opposite extreme, thousands of kilometres north.

Sweden could be allowed to keep border controls: EU
Police ID checks at Hyllie station in southern Sweden. Photo: Stig-Åke Jönsson/TT

Sweden could be allowed to keep ID controls on its border with Denmark beyond the current end date of November, following discussions among EU leaders in Brussels last night.

Why women in Sweden will work for free by November
File photo of a woman working in a Swedish office. Photo: Anders Willund/TT

A new study into the gender pay gap suggests Sweden still has some work to do.

Look familiar? Meet your jawbone's ancestor
Thank God for evolution, eh?

There's something fishy about the human jawbone – it has its origins in the placodermi, a jowly species of fish that lived 400 million years ago, Swedish and Chinese researchers say.

Isis claims unremarked arson attack in Malmö
The arson attack took place on Norra Grängesbergsgatan in Malmö. File photo: Emil Langvad/TT

An arson attack in Malmö that caused only minor damage and was barely reported in the media has been claimed by terror group Isis.

Sponsored Article
This is Malmö: Football capital of Sweden
Fury at plans that 'threaten the IB's survival' in Sweden
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
Here's where it could snow in central Sweden this weekend
Analysis & Opinion
Are we just going to let half the country die?
Blog updates

6 October

10 useful hjälpverb (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! I think the so-called “hjalpverb” (auxiliary verbs in English) are a good way to get…" READ »


8 July

Editor’s blog, July 8th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hej readers, It has, as always, been a bizarre, serious and hilarious week in Sweden. You…" READ »

Sponsored Article
7 reasons you should join Sweden's 'a-kassa'
Angry elk chases Swede up a lamp post
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
The Local Voices
'Alienation in Sweden feels better: I find myself a stranger among scores of aliens'
People-watching: October 20th
The Local Voices
A layover at Qatar airport brought this Swedish-Kenyan couple together - now they're heading for marriage
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Swede punches clown that scared his grandmother
Sponsored Article
Swedish for programmers: 'It changed my life'
Fans throw flares and enter pitch in Swedish football riot
Could Swedish blood test solve 'Making a Murderer'?
Sponsored Article
Top 7 tips to help you learn Swedish
Property of the week: Linnéstaden, Gothenburg
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Swedish school to build gender neutral changing room
People-watching: October 14th-16th
Sponsored Article
'There was no future for me in Turkey'
Man in Sweden assaulted by clowns with broken bottle
Sponsored Article
‘Extremism can't be defeated on the battlefield alone’
Nobel Prize 2016: Literature
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Watch the man who discovered Bob Dylan react to his Nobel Prize win
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
Record numbers emigrating from Sweden
Sponsored Article
'There was no future for me in Turkey'
People-watching: October 12th
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
The Local Voices
'Swedish startups should embrace newcomers' talents - there's nothing to fear'
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How far right are the Sweden Democrats?
Property of the week: Triangeln, Malmö
Sweden unveils Europe's first elk hut
People-watching: October 7th-9th
The Local Voices
Syria's White Helmets: The Nobel Peace Prize would have meant a lot, but pulling a child from rubble is the greatest reward
Missing rune stone turns up in Sweden
Nobel Prize 2016: Chemistry
jobs available