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Housing queue now '20 years' in parts of capital

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Housing queue now '20 years' in parts of capital
Apartments in Stockholm. Photo: TT
10:44 CET+01:00
The queue for housing in Stockholm lengthened dramatically 2014, with many "insecure" residents signing up because of fears the shortage of accommodation in the capital could get worse.
The housing service in Stockholm (Bostadsförmedlingen) says the number of newly-registered applicants for apartments and houses grew from 37,000 in 2013 to 41,000 people last year. This represents an 18 percent increase - the largest jump in years.
 
The service's 2014 review suggests that the waiting time for an apartment in Norrmalm in central Stockholm for example, is now 20 years - twice the wait in 2006. The average waiting time for the whole inner city is now 13 years - over a year longer than in 2013.
 
The report also found that submissions for student housing increased from 1,038 in 2013, to 1,331 in 2014.

The total of registered applicants in Stockholm is now a little over 470,000.

 
Around a third of Swedes live in rental accommodation and about half of those renters stay in properties owned by local municipalities, according to SABO, the organisation which represents housing associations in Sweden.
 
While in many other European countries public housing is reserved for those on lower incomes, anyone in Sweden can apply for public housing in Stockholm, which is usually maintained to a high standard. Both public and privately owned apartments are available to those who register with the city's housing service.
 
Those who make it to the top of the waiting list are given what is known as a 'first hand' contract, which usually lasts indefinitely. As a result, renting 'second hand' is common in Sweden's big cities, with many tenants forced to take short term contracts, and some switching properties several times a year.
 
According to Jenny Burman, a press officer for Stockholm's housing service, only 13 percent of people on the list are actively seeking apartments.
 
She attributed the 2014 hike in applications to a rising demographic of individuals waiting in line simply as an "insurance", for example in case they couldn't find an apartment in the private sector in future, became single, or had problems buying an apartment.
 
But she admitted that "insecurity" was rising due to existing housing troubles in the Swedish capital.
 
"Some people are looking for a very specific kind of apartment, but not in a rush to move out, and register," she explained. "Then, you have about 50 percent of the registry made up of people who are thinking of it as some kind of insurance, in case their situation changes and so on."
 
"It's a sign of a bigger crisis."
 
 
Anyone can join the housing agency's public register for an annual 210 kronor fee.
 
The good news, based on the 2014 review, is that the number of apartments in its registry increased from 10,139 in 2013, to 11,967 in 2014.
 
This was largely due to more private landlords offering their properties, with a 48 percent jump in the number of properties on the list owned by this group.
 
"Our most important goal is to offer a really good service to real estate owners, so they trust us and join the registry so we can then connect them to new potential tenants," said Burman.
 
Stockholm housing service covers a large area around the city, from Uppsala in the north to Nyköping in the south.
 
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