Two-year average wait for rental homes in Sweden

Two-year average wait for rental homes in Sweden
New-build balconies in suburban Stockholm. File: Daniel Mott/Flickr
Anyone hoping for a one-room apartment in Sweden will have to wait an average of 2.5 years, but the wait is far worse in Stockholm, new statistics showed on Tuesday.
The Swedish Union of Tenants (Hyresgästföreningen) found in a new review that queues for open-term rental contracts were long nationwide.
A one-room apartment, on average, required that home hunters stood in the queue for two and a half years.
“Imagine comparing these queues to other things in life,” report author Jonas Hagetoft said in a statement. “In two and a half years you could have two children or sail around the world almost three times.”
While studios remained property-market gold for first-time home hunters, the average national wait for a four-room home was even longer. To secure a contract for a family-sized flat of that size took on average four and a half years to secure, the tenants union found.
The “first-hand contract”, as opposed to subletting with fewer rights as a tenant, has long been considered paramount to housing security in Sweden. The queues and housing shortages have fanned the flames of a thriving black market, on which house hunters pay cash to skip the official queues. 
The organization found that the wait was longer in thriving and urbanizing areas, where the average wait for a four-room home was close to six years.
Of Sweden's 21 counties, only Dalarna County could boast a queue time of less than a year. Stockholm, Uppsala, Halland and Norrbotten, meanwhile, required the most patience from house hunters. The queue for a home in Stockholm stretched out the furthest, to seven and a half years.
“If you're recently divorced then it's an eternity,” Hagetoft said. “Local politician who want to show social responsibility should strive to have the shortest queue time possible, ideally around two to three months.”
Hagetoft suggested that the Swedish government needed to spur on the construction of housing to address shortages, bottlenecks, and queues. 
Long queue times will come as no surprise to home hunters who have tried to crack the system in Sweden. Last year, a Stockholm woman finally got the keys to her dream home after a 28-year wait.

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