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Surging Norwegian rent prices spark a rise in inquires over illegal increases

Frazer Norwell
Frazer Norwell - [email protected]
Surging Norwegian rent prices spark a rise in inquires over illegal increases
A tough rental market means an increasing number of tenants are contacting consumer rights groups about their landlord. Pictured is an apartment block in Norway. Photo by Marla Prusik on Unsplash

An expensive and difficult rental market has led to an increase in complaints against landlords raising the rent beyond what is legal, the Norwegian Tenants Association has said.

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The cost of renting in Norway has increased significantly over the previous year, and figures from the rental platform Husleie show that rent prices have increased by 7.4 percent over the past year.

Letting agents expect rent prices to continue surging to increase demand and a low number of available properties on the market. A change to tax rules on second homes and increased interest rates, energy prices and inflation have also increased costs for landlords.

Meanwhile, figures from the property section of the ad-listing site Finn.no show that rents in Oslo have increased by 25.2 per cent over the past four years.

"On average, you now have to pay 18,700 kroner in rent for an apartment in Oslo, compared to 14,900 kroner in 2019," Jørgen Hellestveit, head of Finn's property section recently told Norwegian newspaper Dagens Næringsliv.

The Norwegian Tenant Association have seen the number of inquiries they receive about rent hikes almost double over the past year. Many of the inquiries revolve around the legality of a rent increase.

"For the tenant, it is an expensive and difficult rental market," Tom Olav Risa, a lawyer for the consumer rights group, told DN.

In Norway, rent can only be increased twelve months after the contract was signed or last changed. Rent can only be increased in line with the consumer price index, which measures inflation. If a contract expires and a tenant wishes to enter a new one, then the landlord can raise the rent higher than inflation.

Risa said that many inquiries involve instances where the landlord wishes to raise the rent beyond what is legal.

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"They (landlords) point to increased costs. First, there were the electricity prices, then the interest rate increases and not least, increased joint costs. There are things the landlord has not necessarily taken into account and will try to pass on to the tenant," he said.

"We have seen cases where the landlord has had electricity included. When electricity then becomes expensive, the landlord still cannot increase more," he added.

Risa compared current market conditions in Oslo to a risky sport and said that tenants would need to be careful when entering agreements.

"I would call it a risky sport to rent in Oslo. Due to the tenancy act's rules, you can be pushed out (of the property) if you are not careful enough," Risa said.

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