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The Swedish rental market (and new rules) made simple

Looking to become a landlord or wanting rooms for rent? The Swedish market is a jargon-filled jungle with seemingly more rules than properties on offer. With new laws introduced this year, Sarah Foxen-Stjernswärd from Residensportalen explains everything you need to know.

The Swedish rental market (and new rules) made simple

Put simply, expats that navigate the rental market and get the best results are those who quickly accept and adapt to how it works in Sweden.

People who have a difficult time are often those who hold onto how things are done at home and work on those principles.

PHOTO GALLERY: Top five tips – looking to rent in Sweden

"What you need to understand is that Sweden doesn't have a market conducive for investment properties," Foxen-Stjernswärd says.

"Instead, it's dependent on Swedish owners' mobility and willingness to rent out their properties. That means limited choices and the fact that rental levels can be quite high, since landlords need to break even on their investment."

A law change in February this year, however, is benefitting rental homehunters with better terms for landlords, which has resulted in an increase in properties on the market for rent.

New rules on rent charges for sublets

For owned property (bostadsrätter, ägarrätter and houses) rent charges can now cover operating costs including monthly fees paid to the cooperative housing association (bostadsrättsförening), utilities, as well as a premium for wear and tear.

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

If the property is a hyresrätt, the owner is allowed to charge their own rental costs plus an additional 10-15 percent if the property is furnished.

New rules for notification

For privately owned properties, the tenant may give one calendar month notice and the landlord may give calendar month's notice regardless of agreed upon lease term. In addition, tenants cannot assume that rental contracts are extended automatically and they must move out at the end of the contract even if they haven't received any formal notice from the landlord.

According to Foxen-Stjernswärd, the new laws have had a positive effect and fears of rental price increases have amount have amounted to nothing. In short, it's a huge market win.

"In comparison with 2012, we have experienced an 163 percent increase in landlord registrations this year to date, with a 21 percent increase in September alone," she says.

"We have noticed that expats have significantly more to choose from and have not noted price increases since many of those who rented out their properties prior to the law change charged market price anyway."

How Residensportalen can help

Since 2003, the Stockholm-based letting agency offers you a cutting edge tool to find your next home in Sweden.

With properties across the country, you can register for free, create a profile and browse the best rentals on the Swedish market.

Additional services include contract brokering, inventory documentation and property inspection.

Article sponsored by Residensportalen

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PROPERTY

Nudity to BBQs: What you can (and can’t) do on your balcony in Sweden

What better way to enjoy summer in your apartment than by making full use of your balcony? The Local spoke to Henric Gartz, a lawyer who specialises on issues related to housing, to find out how to stay on the right side of the law.

Nudity to BBQs: What you can (and can't) do on your balcony in Sweden

“You should look at your rental contract to see if there are any special rules in regards to what you can and cannot do on a balcony”, Henric Gartz, lawyer at Fastighetsjuristerna Göteborg, a legal firm specialising in housing issues, told The Local.

“If nothing is specified, then you should follow the general rules and be considerate towards your neighbours.”

The three common issues that arise during the summer when Swedes take to their balconies are grilling, smoking and nudity, he said.

Barbecues

The summer season is perfect for grilling, and although many residential areas in Sweden have communal grills in the garden, this is not always the case. Even if they do, some people prefer grilling on their balcony to be closer to the kitchen.

“If you grill, it will smell of meat, fish or vegetables and it could smell bad for a neighbour”, said Gartz. 

Electric grills are often more suitable for balconies. Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

It’s also important to check with your housing association or your landlord to make sure they allow grilling on the balcony before you get started.

“A housing association has a lot of freedom to choose whether barbecues are allowed or not,” Maria Mati, property lawyer at HSB, Sweden’s largest cooperative housing association, wrote on their website.

“Therefore, you need to check to find out what applies in your association. But even if it’s allowed, you need to make sure that you grill in a fire-safe way.”

“And respect your neighbours,” she added.

Smoking

So, is it legal to smoke a cigarette outside on your balcony?

“You are allowed to smoke on your balcony,” Gartz said, “But if neighbours don’t like the smell of cigarette or cigar smoke, then be considerate.”

According to HSB, there’s no general ban on smoking in apartment blocks, and a housing foundation can’t ban you from smoking on your balcony or outside space.

“But you should also make sure you show consideration here,” Mati said, warning that you could end up on the wrong side of the law.

“The Residential Tenancies Act’s rules on disturbances in the property, or the Environmental Code’s rules on nuisance could be used in cases involving tobacco smoke,” she said.

“However, in one case, the district court in Falun decided that smoking on a balcony was permitted to a reasonable extent, even if irritated the neighbours,” she said.

Again, it all boils down to showing consideration for your neighbours.

“Maybe if you see that they are drinking coffee and you know smoke annoys them, wait until they finish before smoking”, Gartz said.

Just because your balcony is small doesn’t mean you can’t try your hand at growing your own vegetables. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Can I have plants on my balcony?

Flower boxes are a great way to liven up a balcony or even try your hand at growing vegetables during the summer months – just make sure they’re hanging on the inside of your balcony so they can’t fall down and injure someone, and try to avoid water and soil raining down on your neighbours below when you water your plants.

Is it legal to sunbathe naked on my balcony?

It depends how you do it.

Stripping off on your balcony isn’t necessarily forbidden. However, you do need to consider whether the neighbours might see more than they want to while you’re catching some rays. 

As is generally the case with rules for what you can and can’t do on your balcony, the law says that you’re more than entitled to take off your clothes in your own private space – but this shouldn’t impact your neighbours. 

To get around this, you may want to put up a screen between you and your neighbour’s balcony (you may have to ask permission from your housing foundation if this involves drilling any holes in the wall), or even go full Adam and Eve with a strategically placed plant or two.

Another option is position your parasol so it blocks your neighbour’s view – just watch out for any gusts of wind that may strike at an inopportune moment.

If, however, people see you from the street this could be more problematic, and in some cases end up in court depending on the gravity.

Similarly, you can’t have sex on your balcony where others could see or hear you – this could lead to a police report for förargelseväckande beteende (disorderly conduct).

In a nutshell:

Apartment living is often about compromise, and this also applies to what you do on your balcony. Speak to your neighbours and make sure they’re not irritated by your behaviour – similarly, let them know if something they’re doing is irritating you and see if you can figure out a solution which works for everyone.

“It is important to respect each other and talk about issues, if you live close to other people”, Gartz said.

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