Renting

Challenges of the rental market in Norway:

  • General shortage of rental properties in relation to the demand.
  • Rental properties get rented out quickly – between 3 days to 2 weeks.
  • Landlords get so much interest in their properties that sometimes they do not bother to return every call.

What this means for you:

  • You may not get a large variety of properties to pick from.
  • You may have to make a quick decision when deciding on a property to rent.
  • There is no time for your Relocation coordinators to conduct a property pre-check before you view it.
  • It is not possible to reserve a property before your arrival to Norway.

FINN is the go-to site to search for property. So in FINN, click on Eiendom > til Leie > city you currently reside in. There you’ll get to see all the places that are for rent your area.

There is a description of the homes when you click on them, usually complete with pictures and other information. Google Translate is really helpful here. Do note that properties on FINN go pretty quickly so if you see one you like, be sure to contact the owner or your housing/relocation agent immediately to set up a viewing.

You can also check listings in the local papers.

Alternatively, check amongst your network, your or your partner’s colleagues/fellow students – you might hear of a property that is about to go on the market.

The monthly rental can start from 3,000 NOK (for a room in a shared house) to 40,000 NOK (for a big and beautiful house, usually with a view). Furnishings, electricity, Internet and cable TV may or may not be included. Places are generally more expensive in and immediately around the city.

Here are some terms that might help you in looking for a place to rent.

  • bofelleskap = shared house
  • kjellerleilighet = basement apartment
  • loftsleilighet = loft apartment
  • hybel = bedsit
  • leilighet= apartment
  • enebolig= detached house / one entire house
  • rekkehus= Row house / house in a series
  • tomanns/flermannsbolig= Semi detached house / one house divided for 2 or more different families
  • blokk= apartment building
  • Bolig= dwelling
  • Bad = toilet/bathroom/washroom
  • Rom = bedroom
  • Gang= hallway
  • U. etg. = under etasje, or basement/cellar
  • 1etg.= first floor
  • loft= attic
  • stue= living room
  • dusj= shower
  • vaskerom= laundry/washing room
  • oppvarming = heating
  • beliggenhet = location
  • renovert = renovated/refurbished

So You’ve Seen Some Places You Like, What Next?

Contact the landlord or your relocation coordinator to set up a viewing. Some places might have a felles visning(common viewing).

If you are interested in a place, let the landlord/relocation coordinator know. Also be honest with your relocation coordinator with what you are looking for in a property. The landlord will decide who he wants to rent the place to, so you may not necessarily get the place you want. And as many of your fellow expats have experienced, you might lose the place you so badly desire to someone else just because they are Norwegian.

Basically, landlords are looking for tenants who can pay the rent on time and who will not run away without paying the rent. Therefore, having a company or the municipality as your guarantor can help.

Finances for Renting

Renting a house/apartment does not require capital other than for the deposit. If you do not have money for the deposit, you should contact your municipality. Some municipalities can offer to lend you the deposit, while others can furnish a guarantee that some landlords will accept as an alternative to a deposit. Check with your company if they are willing to do that too. If the municipality or your company cannot offer you a loan for the deposit or act as a guarantor, the alternative is to take up a loan for the deposit in a private bank.

Your Rights As A Tenant

Your most important rights as a tenant are stipulated in the lease and in the Tenancy Act. The Tenancy Act includes a prohibition against discrimination in tenancy situations. The parties (the landlord and the tenant) are free to decide the amount of rent to be paid at the time the lease is signed. However, once the lease has been signed, the rent can only be increased in step with the consumer price index in the first three years. Index regulation can only take place after one year at the earliest.

The tenant is not obliged to pay rent for more than one month in advance. The rent must be a fixed amount. In addition, it can be agreed that electricity and heating will be paid separately on the basis of consumption.

The tenant has a right to let his/her immediate family move into the dwelling. The landlord cannot enter the dwelling without the tenant’s consent.

The Tenancy Act does not prohibit the renting of a run-down property, but a building that has not been approved for human habitation, or that is considered a health hazard, cannot be rented out. Incorrect information about the dwelling given by the landlord will be considered a breach of contract (defect). Damage, faults or other matters concerning the dwelling that the tenant knew about before signing the lease are not considered defects. The landlord is obliged to repair any defects to ensure that the condition of the dwelling is in accordance with the lease. It the landlord does not repair the defects, the tenant can demand a reduction in rent or withhold the rent. If the defects are substantial, the tenant can cancel the lease. Always contact the landlord first if you think there is a defect.

Lease

The landlord and the tenant must always sign a written lease.

Lease should include:

  • The parties’ names and addresses
  • The property to be rented and the amount of rent to be paid.
  • If the landlord demands a deposit, this must be specified in the lease.
  • The period of notice is three months, unless otherwise stated in the lease.

The property should be checked when the lease is signed to make sure it corresponds to the description of the property in the lease. Consider drawing up a list of furniture etc. and its condition.

Deposit

A deposit is an amount that the tenant pays as security for rent owed. The amount may not exceed six months’ rent. The amount must be deposited in a separate account, and neither of the parties may use the amount for the duration of the tenancy. If the landlord demands that the tenant deposit the amount in the landlord’s private account, or that the tenant deposit the amount in cash, the tenant can always refuse to do so. Any fee payable to the bank for opening a separate account is to be paid by the landlord.

When the tenancy expires, the landlord usually gives his/her written consent to the bank to pay the deposit to the tenant. If not, the tenant must request in writing that the bank pays him/her the deposit. The bank shall notify the landlord in writing of the request, giving notice that the amount will be paid to the tenant if the landlord does not instigate legal proceedings (within five weeks after receiving such notice).

Housing Allowance

Housing allowance is a government-financed support scheme for people at a disadvantage in the housing market. The purpose of the scheme is to help households with low incomes and high housing expenses to obtain housing or retain their current housing. The scheme is government-financed and managed by the Norwegian Housing Bank and local municipalities.

Poor finances do not automatically make you eligible for a housing allowance. Only applicants who satisfy all the requirements will receive a housing allowance. The closing date for the receipt of applications is the 14th of each month. If your application is successful, the allowance will be paid on the 10th of the following month.

Applications should be submitted to the housing office in your local municipality, or online via Altinn.

Terminating the Tenancy

A tenancy can be entered into for a specified (‘non-terminable’) period or an unspecified (‘terminable’) period. A lease for a specified period expires without notice at the agreed time. Out of consideration for the tenant, leases for specified periods cannot be entered into for a period shorter than three years (unless the landlord lives in the same house, then the lease period can be for a year). As a tenant, you are therefore never bound by a lease for a specified period that is valid for less than three years. If the parties agree and it is not otherwise specified in the lease, a lease for a specified period can nevertheless be terminated.

A lease for an unspecified period runs until it is terminated by either party. If the lease does not specify a period of notice, the period of notice is three months. The tenant can terminate the tenancy without reason. The termination should be in writing. The landlord can terminate the tenancy if he/she has justifiable grounds for doing so. Termination by the landlord must be in writing. The tenant can object to the termination, and the termination will lapse if the landlord does not take the case to the Conciliation Board.

Fire Regulations

All properties in Norway must have smoke detectors and a fire extinguisher. Landlords are responsible for this.

Check that such equipment is present before you sign the lease. Check the batteries in the smoke detector and make sure that the fire extinguisher has been approved and tested.

Check the escape routes from the bedrooms and find out how you can escape in the event of fire.

FAQs

What should I know as a tenant?
Check out the Tenancy Act to learn all about your rights as a tenant (it’s in English!).

Do I have to purchase insurance for my personal belongings?
YES, you will need to purchase innboforsikring for your personal belongings. The landlord is not responsible for your personal items.

My landlord and I are in disagreement. Where can I go for help?
If the landlord and you are unable to come to an agreement, contact your relocation coordinator or the Forliksrådetin your kommune for mediation.
For more information, check out Forbrukerrådet (The Consumer Council of Norway). It has all the information you need, in both Norwegian and English.

If the disagreement is in connected to the actual rent, you can also go to The Rent Dispute Tribunal or Husleietvistutvalget for help.

Note about smoking – if you or your family members smoke, do check with your landlord if smoking is permitted indoors. Many Norwegian smokers make it a point to only smoke outside their homes :

  • to reduce the risk of fire
  • to avoid air pollution in the home
  • to reduce health hazards to non-smoking family members
  • to avoid the stench of cigarette smoke on walls and the furniture, among other reasons.