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Rising rents and a shortage of homes: Why now is a hard time to rent in Norway

Frazer Norwell
Frazer Norwell - [email protected] • 6 Nov, 2022 Updated Sun 6 Nov 2022 09:18 CEST
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A number of factors have made the rental market in Norway harder to navigate in recent times. Pictured are homes in Bergen. Photo by Alan Bowman on Unsplash

High demand and a shortage of properties has led to a tight rental market in Norway. The Local spoke to housing experts in Norway on the factors making it difficult for prospective tenants to find a place to call home. 

Now can feel like a particularly tough time to rent in Norway. Rising rents, high demand and shortage of properties have made the current market particularly tricky to navigate. 

Financial newspaper Finansavisen recently reported that, at the end of June this year, there were 45 percent fewer rental properties on the market compared to 2021. 

READ ALSO: Gloomy forecast for Norway’s rental market

Jardar Sørvoll and Kim Astrup, both researchers at BOVEL, the centre of housing and welfare research at Oslo Metropolitan University, who specialise in the Norwegian property market, told The Local that a lack of houses for rent was causing significant problems for the property market in Norway. 

“The supply of rental housing in the largest cities is not sufficient, and this contributes to increasing rent levels,” the researchers told The Local. 

Sørvoll and Astrup said that current market conditions mean that foreigners and those without much of a network in Norway’s big cities suffer as a result. 

“The importance of personal contacts also means that 'the outsiders', such as immigrants or other groups who have few relatives or acquaintances, have difficulties finding a home in the private rental market in urban areas. Moreover, there are reasons to believe that some groups, such as certain immigrants and low-income households, experience discrimination,” the researchers said. 

Shortages weren’t the only thing making it difficult to rent in Norway at the moment. The cost of renting in Norway is also becoming more expensive. During the second quarter, the cost of renting in Norway’s four biggest cities rose 4.2 percent compared to a year ago. 

Typically, landlords can raise the rent for tenants in line with inflation for those who have been renting with them for over a year. Inflation currently being at 6.5 percent means existing tenants should anticipate steep rent increases too. 

Norway’s government has previously told The Local that it was not considering a rental market cap to protect tenants against rising costs. 

READ MORE: Norway’s government rules out a temporary rent cap 

Kjetil J. Olsen, CEO of Husleie, a platform where landlords can manage tenancies, told The Local that rents were going up as landlords’ overheads have increased significantly over the past year. 

“The steep increase of rental prices we see in the Norwegian rental market is a result of the toxic cocktail we predicted last fall, consisting of increased wealth taxes, the higher taxable value of secondary homes impacting landlords renting out, and the now new reality of increased interest rates and expensive electricity. The result of this ‘cost increase’ sadly ends up with tenants. We are now seeing price levels that we have never seen before in Norway,” Olsen said. 

What can be done to address the issues? 

Olsen said that reverting changes to taxes which see those with second homes charged more could help alleviate the problem. 

“While not the solution to everything, we believe more in reverting the increased taxes that were imposed in 2022,” the CEO of Husleie told The Local when asked whether a rent cap could be a solution. 

The researchers at BOVEL said that the government should look at ways of stimulating the market and that policymakers needed to outline solid plans for the property market. 

“We believe that the government should seriously consider stimulating the supply of rental housing. This may contribute to creating a larger and more transparent rental market that is easier to access for immigrants and less prone to sudden shortages and large price increases. Currently, Norway has no grand policy strategy for the rental market in particular or the housing market in general – either in the short or long term. But creating such a plan may be a good idea,” Sørvoll and Astrup explained. 

What is the government doing? 

Minister of Local Government and Regional Development, Sigbjørn Gjelsvik, told The Local that the government understood that now was a tough time to be a tenant in Norway. 

“The Norwegian rental market works well in many ways, but we are now in a situation where the rental prices are under more pressure than usual. The students are back after two years of corona restrictions, and the prices in society rise in general,” Gjelsvikm said. 

Gjelsvik added that the government wanted to work together with tenants and landlords to ensure the safety and emergency exit regulations were adequately met and that it wanted to reduce student housing queues and facilitate more homes being built to ease pressure on the market.

He added that the government would unveil more plans for the housing market in 2024. 

The government will present our housing politics in a white paper to parliament in 2024. In this process, we will take a closer look at the challenges in the rental market,” Gjelsvikm said. 

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Frazer Norwell 2022/11/06 09:18

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