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How to get out of a rental contract in Norway

Robin-Ivan Capar
Robin-Ivan Capar - [email protected]
How to get out of a rental contract in Norway
The Norwegian Tenancy Act contains rules that govern both the landlord's and tenant's rights and obligations regarding termination. Photo by Emily Wang on Unsplash

Ending a rental contract as a tenant in Norway can be quite complicated. Understanding these rules is essential for the process to unfold smoothly.

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Tenants in Norway often find themselves in a situation where they need to end a rental contract.

This can happen for various reasons, with moving to a different part of town (or another town entirely) and personal reasons such as family expansion being among the more common ones.

READ MORE: What renters in Norway should know when they move homes

Should you find yourself in such a situation, it's important that you know the rules and regulations governing the rental contract termination process in the country.

The standard route – giving notice

The most common way to terminate a tenancy agreement if you're renting a home is by giving notice.

Typically, the notice period is three months, starting from the first day of the month following the month in which the notice was given.

Throughout the notice period, both the landlord's and tenant's rights and obligations continue to apply (you can find all of them listed in the Tenancy Act).

The terms for how the landlord and tenant can terminate the tenancy agreement by giving notice are often outlined in the rental contract.

The contract usually specifies how exactly the agreement can be terminated, the length of the notice period, and other terms.

For instance, it may state that the contract cannot be terminated during the first year of the tenancy. That's why it's a good idea to read your contract thoroughly before moving to terminate your tenancy agreement.

READ MORE: The key Norwegian vocab you need to understand rental ads

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Key rules from the Norwegian Tenancy Act

There are significant differences between termination by the landlord and termination by the tenant, as the Rent Disputes Tribunal points out on its website.

The tenant can typically terminate an unspecified tenancy agreement unless otherwise agreed upon. An unspecified tenancy agreement is one with no set end date.

For a time-specified tenancy agreement, the tenant can terminate it if it's allowed or if the landlord hasn't informed the tenant in writing that termination is prohibited.

Tenants have the flexibility to provide notice of termination either verbally or in writing, and they are not required to provide a specific reason for doing so.

However, having written evidence of the termination can be crucial if disputes arise. Without written proof, presenting a case in the Rent Disputes Tribunal can be challenging. Therefore, giving written notice is advisable.

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Termination by the landlord – and what recourse you have as a tenant

Landlords also have the option to terminate a tenancy agreement, and the terms for this termination are usually also detailed in the rental contract.

They can terminate a time-specified tenancy if it's allowed, or, if not specified, an unspecified tenancy agreement.

Under Norwegian law, tenants are protected against arbitrary terminations by landlords. This protection includes the requirement for the landlord to have a justifiable reason for terminating (such as needing the property for themselves or their household, remodelling the property, contract violations, etc.), and tenants have the right to object to the termination.

READ MORE: The most common disputes between tenants and landlords

Tenants can object in writing to the termination within one month of receiving notice, even if the landlord has a valid reason for termination.

If a tenant objects, the landlord can submit a complaint to the Rent Disputes Tribunal, which will determine the validity of the termination.

If the tenant raises an objection within the deadline, the landlord has three months to initiate action by submitting a complaint to the Rent Disputes Tribunal to settle the termination's validity.

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What to do when termination isn't permitted?

Once you've signed a rental lease, you're legally committed to its terms and responsibilities.

Generally, you can't easily end the agreement at your discretion - you must follow specific steps for termination, which often involve - as we explained earlier - providing notice and potentially paying rent for the notice period.

In cases of fixed-term leases, where the rental duration is defined, you're obliged to adhere to the lease terms. This means you'll typically need to pay rent for the entire lease duration, whether or not you live in the property.

However, you can terminate a lease in some situations, even if the contract suggests otherwise. This occurs when the lease becomes invalid due to certain conditions not being met, providing a legal means for you to exit the agreement.

Leases can be invalidated if specific conditions are not fulfilled. For example, if the rental property significantly differs from what was initially agreed upon in the lease.

To terminate a fixed-term lease, your primary option is demonstrating valid reasons for contract nullification. As mentioned earlier, one such reason could be substantial differences between the property's condition and what the lease specifies. It's important to note that these criteria are often strict and require significant supporting evidence.

Fixed-term leases do not grant you an inherent "right of withdrawal." If you decide not to occupy the property, you'll typically still be responsible for fulfilling your rent obligations until either the notice period ends or the entire fixed-term lease duration expires, depending on the specific circumstances.

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