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Essential tips for international students looking to rent in Norway

Students who have been accepted to study in Norway may be searching for accommodation. Ahead of the new academic year, here are the top tips when looking for a student house in Norway.

Essential tips for international students looking to rent in Norway
Trondheim, one of Norway's most popular student towns. Photo by AQEEL AFZALI on Unsplash

Students found out from The Norwegian Universities and Colleges Admission Service whether they were accepted by their first choice university last month.

This will mean, among other things, they will need to start looking for a place to live while they study. 

According to a survey conducted by the Norwegian Consumer Council, two-thirds of students studying in Norway will rent a house without physically seeing it in person. 

This proportion is likely to be higher amongst foreign students due to Norway’s strict Covid-19 border rules, making research trips to Norway to scout out student accommodation practically impossible. 

Pia Høst, director of consumer rights and guidance at the Norwegian Consumer Council, believes that students are particularly vulnerable to being scammed by rogue landlords. 

“They don’t have much experience in the housing market. The market is very hot at the moment, and students have a very short time to find a place to live. All three factors together mean you can get a bad apartment or even be cheated,” Høst explained in the survey’s findings.

Examples of issues student house hunters will run into include the property not looking like the pictures, being in poor condition with issues like mould, being potentially dangerous, or maybe the home not even existing. 

Luckily, the Norwegian Consumer Council has published its top tips for those looking for a student house. 

READ ALSO: Why do Norwegians fall out with their neighbours? 

If possible, try to see the property before you pay 

This may not be possible for many international students, but as an alternative, perhaps see if you can book a virtual tour before you stump up for a deposit, or if its a shared house ask some of the students already living there about the property. 

Use a contract 

This one is a must because it protects your right as a consumer. A copy of a standard contract in Norway can be found here if your landlord is inexperienced or one isn’t provided. 

Check what is included in the rent

Make sure to check what is included in the rent before signing the contract. Not every property will come with furniture or bills included in the price. This will save you any nasty shocks by checking what exactly you are getting for your money. This is important as the cost of energy bills in Norway during the winter can be sky high. 

If you’re struggling to find a place you can advertise yourself to landlords 

In Norway, you can use services such as Hybel, where you can not only look to rent property, but you can advertise yourself as a prospective tenant. 

You can create a tenant profile where you can list your budget, requirements and about yourself. This will help landlords find you and if you list yourself as a student you may attract landlords experienced in dealing with student accommodation. 

Your university may be able to help 

Even if you are deciding against student halls and instead want to explore the private renting sector it may be worth asking the international department at your university as they may have a list of local landlords or housing options. 

Posting a housing advert can be pricey in Norway so not every property available to rent is listed with estate agents or on sites like finn.no

Outline who’s responsible for what

Another important one when looking over the rental agreement is knowing who will be responsible for what.

For example, if the tenant is responsible for accidental damage, they may need to fork out in the event of an accident.

Additionally, check whether the landlord is responsible for maintaining the house’s condition. In that case, it will mean they will have to pay for repairs if they are problems with the heating or electricity, for example. 

Check the notice period

Before signing on the dotted line, it’s essential to know what the notice period is to terminate your tenancy is. Some rental contracts in Norway will be for more than one year, but only one year will be mandatory.

If you wish to end the contract early, you will need to give reasonable notice. Otherwise, you may be liable to pay for the remaining time on your contract. 

The notice period in Norway is typically three months and must be given in writing. A tenant can terminate the lease without providing a reason, a landlord will have to however.

Request a deposit account 

There are many deposit services whereby tenants can put their deposits into holding accounts for the duration of their tenancy.

This system helps to ensure that the process of recovering the deposit is both fair and straightforward. 

In Norway, you will typically be asked to put down between six weeks and three months rent as a security deposit.  

Document damage to the house and take inventory when moving in and out of the property

When moving in, document any damage to the house, take inventory and let the landlord know if anything is missing or there’s any damage. This is so that you don’t have to pay for any damage to the property you have not done but the landlord may have missed. 

Keep the home in good condition 

This one is common sense. You’ll need to keep the house clean and avoid damage to ensure you aren’t charged for cleaning or repairs once your tenancy ends. 

If you are moving into a house share, don’t sign on behalf of the whole household

When moving into a house share, make sure that the contract is divided between everyone in the property, rather than having one person responsible. 

This is because you do not want to pay for damage other people have done to their rooms or be responsible for paying a share of a person’s rent if they drop out. 

Know your rights and complain if the landlord doesn’t perform their duties

It’s important to complain and let the landlord know if there is an issue. In addition to this, it’s just as important to follow the case up and complain to the Rent Disputes Tribunal or National Mediation Service to resolve the problem.

Useful Vocab 

Kollektiv– Flat/house share 

Kollektivet- The hosue share 

Husleie– Rent 

Eindom– Property 

Studentbolig– Student housing 

Samordna Opptak– The Norwegian Universities and Colleges Admission Service

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Key mistakes to avoid when bidding on a house in Norway 

Norway's house bidding process is equally stressful and confusing, but before putting in an offer, you should make sure you aren't making any of these costly mistakes. 

Key mistakes to avoid when bidding on a house in Norway 

Buying a house is normally stressful enough, whether it’s getting a mortgage in place, going to dozens of viewings or spending hours going through listings. 

In Norway, the process is further complicated by the house bidding process, which you will have to go through when buying most properties today.

Additionally, you could make several mistakes that could make the process harder or cost you dearly. 

READ ALSO: 

Not having financing in place

Before you can bid on a property, you need to visit the bank to ensure financing for your purchase. If you are taking out a mortgage on the house, you will need to make sure you know the set limit the bank will allow to borrow. 

When you make a bid, the estate agent will contact the bank to ensure that you have the financial arrangements. If you do not have enough money or the mortgage your bank agreed on doesn’t cover the cost, your bid will be rebuffed. 

Therefore it is crucial to know your financial limits when entering bidding rounds to avoid any disappointments. 

Making a bid on a house you aren’t sure about

You should be absolutely sure that you could see yourself living in a property when you bid on it. This is because bids in Norway are legally binding, meaning that even if you put in a speculative bid and it’s accepted, you won’t be able to back out.

This means that you should avoid putting in any offers on homes you aren’t 100 percent sure about.

So while you may be in a rush to get on the property ladder or take a step up, patience will prevail over diving in headfirst. 

Forgetting to do proper research

The devil is always in the detail, and as dull as it may be, you should always read the small print to avoid any nasty shocks. 

This is especially important when buying apartments in Oslo and other cities where you will likely encounter housing associations where residents will be expected to pay various fees or contribute to the upkeep of the block. 

“For instance, if they are planning to replace the roof of the block the next year, you will read about it in the sales documents. It is important to consider whether you can afford a property also after potential add-ons,” Trine Dahl-Pettersen, real estate agent at Eindom 1, explained to The Local

Reading the small print isn’t the only place where research pays off. For example, one reader who has bought a house in Norway pointed out that finding a place that needs a little bit of work can help you avoid intense bidding wars, and locals tend to want a ready-made home to move into. 

“Finding a property that won’t go sky high over the asking price when bidding can be challenging. However, I quickly noticed that Norwegians are not afraid to bid high for a ready-to-go home,” Scott told The Local of his experiences buying in Bergen. 

“If you are comfortable doing some work on it, you can find a much better deal, maybe even under the asking price,” he added.

Therefore, market research can help prevent you from paying over the odds. 

Making more than one bid at a time

Unfortunately, putting plenty of bids out and seeing which offers stick could be a lot more disastrous than you may think. 

As mentioned earlier, bids in Norway are legally binding. Meaning that if you have two bids accepted at the same time, you will be legally obligated to purchase both of them.

Not having BankID

Despite the bidding process being done over the phone, there are still some hoops to jump through. 

You’ll need to have a Norwegian Bank ID available for the bidding process, as it is needed to confirm your identity when sending your bids. 

Without this, you won’t be able to lodge any offers. 

In addition to bank ID, you will need a Norwegian identification number (D-number/Personnummer) to hand. 

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