Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Illegal Apartments in Stockholm

In news that should surprise absolutely no one that has attempted to find housing (legally) in Stockholm, a recent study (summary in Swedish and in English) shows that about 40% of apartments are rented illegally.

I am coming up on my three year anniversary of waiting in line over at Stockholms Stads Bostadsförmedlingen. In 2009 there were only 105 apartments in Innerstaden that were rented out to people who had waited in line for 0-4 years. Out of 947. That’s 11%. But it gets better. Because of those 105 apartments, only 18 were classified as a “Vanlig lägenhet.” That means they were not set aside for youth, seniors, or that they weren’t newly built apartments. That doesn’t exactly leave a lot to choose from.

To be fair (because what is more fair than waiting in a line where 40% of the apartments are illegally occupied?), moving farther away from the city increases your chances of getting a place to live. Outside of the inner city 44% of apartments were rented by people waiting in line from 0-4 years.

Most of the illegal contracts are because people keep their contracts and then move out, placing the contract on the black market. Often with a somewhat inflated price. Then all those people who have been waiting in line for three years and are tired of waiting convince themselves that yes, maybe it is worth it to pay a little extra for that contract. Everyone else is doing it after all. Or at least 40% of everyone else. The lesson in all of this? If you’re moving to Sweden and looking for a place to live, start now.

It’s no wonder then that 40% of apartments are illegally rented. Waiting in line for several years with little chance of living in town isn’t conducive to a healthy rental market. Yet some people still believe that the current system works and should continue as it is. There is a fear that a free rental market will result in you not having a place to live. You know, kind of the way it is now. But change is scary. I should know. I’m a registered Republican.

The good thing to come out of this is of course that two new jobs were created at Svenska Bostäder to look into the fraud. Sweden’s job creation plan hard at work.

Welcome to Sweden. And breaking the law. Breaking the law.

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  1. I enjoy your blogs. They are more factual and reality based than people who want to sing Sweden's praises ;-)and present the alternative to people who "hate" it. This gives a greenie who thinks of moving there more of a feel for whether or not they want to put up with that kind of bullshit. Tho' if you're something besides I student, I can't think of any reason why...:p

  2. Forty-percent? That's a LOT. That's a sad state of affairs.

    P.S. - How brave of you to admit your Republican-ness in an quasi-socialist country. I won't hold it against you =P

    ♪┏(・o・)┛♪┗ ( ・o・) ┓♪


  3. Interesting observation - people here always marvel when I explain how hard it is to find somewhere to live in Sweden (or, it seems, in Europe). Outside of Sthlm it's easier, of course, but still hard as hell compared to the US. OTOH, I am not convinced that a free renting market would solve the problem. In Seattle they built a million (well, no, but a lot) of new apt and condo buildings these last few years) that are currently empty due to the econ. climate - but not prices are going down, so people can afford them even less that before. Re Sthlm: And even with a deregulated market, there would still be tons more people than apartments, possibly with an even higher financial threshold to who can afford to live there. Not liking that either.

  4. Hey Hairy Swede. If I come to Stockholm any time soon, could we meet up? You're my idol.

  5. wow that really is crazy, I can't imagine that even though housing here in Vancouver can be difficult and expensive. We also have the second hand contracts here by the way.

  6. not to mention selling the contract on the black market...

    but have you seen the house prices in Stockholm? Its nuts...

  7. Yeah, there is a stupid law here that says apartments can't have too high rent, because everyone should be able to live in the inner-city. But it backfires :)
    It's not profitable to have apartments for rent, so now theres a shortage of rental-apartments. I guess they could take away the rent-law but then the monthly rent would be much higher than alot of people could afford. Which means rich people in the city, poor outside. But i don't know, maybe it's supposed to be like that

  8. It isn't that simple. If there was no rent control, the prices would be way higher, for all apartements in the city! There would be no apartements at all for low prices at all (at least there are some now), and the ones now rented second hand for higher prices would only be even more expensive. Legally, yes, but still more expensive. Most epople don't want a city where only rich people can live. It's certainly not perfect now, but it would be worse then. Like Anonymous before me said.

  9. Crap this is not good news for me. ... *hides*

    well. I did since a contract, and provided my temporary 4 digits that the school supplied me as I wait for my student visa... does that count??


  10. Wow ... I only hear good things about Sweden, that every day makes me have more and more desire to know the Swedish ... but as every place seems to have its problems ...
    But I am sure that should be much better to live in Marvelous Sweden, while not as well maravinhosa ... than in Brazil ... of which only has wonderful beaches ... =)

  11. I know this is a different country, with different peeps, regulations and everything but in my humble opinion it's better to transform the current housing system to a regular one like everywhere else.Unless someone can give me some convincing reasons.

  12. @Rebecca – Sweden and I don’t always get along but we have a good relationship anyway. Despite some of the things I don’t necessarily agree with, I definitely think it is worth a visit or a move over if you have the opportunity.

    @Anonymous – agreed. Not a healthy housing market.

    And thank you… my republican-ness is the only reason I write under a pseudonym.

    Tätortstimotej-anna – what works in the US (and some people would argue it doesn’t work) might not work here. But, I think it is definitely time that something be done because 40% is just ridiculous in the nations capital.

    @anonymous – only if you bring gummy bunnies.

    @Juni – its pretty impressive.

    @rhubarb – yeah, it seems that there are no rules when it comes to putting a house over your head.

    @anonymous – it’s the classic rent ceiling problem presented in just about every microeconomics class Ive ever taken. Its just not efficient.

    @anonymous – yes, there are low prices for some apartments. If you have been waiting in line for several years. I don’t think it can be much worse than it is now when 40% of apartments are illegally rented.

    @Lost – sounds more legal than a lot of people I would say.

    @Carolina – well I definitely think that Brazil wins when it comes to beaches...

    @Tod – agreed.

  13. I didn't realize there was such a thing as Illegal Apartments in Stockholm. The swedish are so call and neutral. Also, they give great massages. I'm telling you, if I was looking for Cheap Apartments I would definitely be careful about who I live with.

    The information you provide is quite interesting.

  14. The problem might also be that the government has allowed for rented apartments to be bought by those who rent them, at a huge discount by the way (all at the tax payers expense). Have the government build more apartments and more people will have a place to live. Rent ceilings are not efficient but that is not the point of them.

  15. @anonymous - oh creative spam.

    @JB - there are so very many things wrong with the housing market in Stockholm that it is laughable. Building more apartments would definitely help.

  16. I totally understand what is going on there. I have been to Argentina and the same thing happens in Buenos Aires. The city is full, and it is really hard te get a condo there. I imagine in Stockholm people are tired of waiting such a long time to get maybe a one-room apartment. Therefore, I understand those who just decide to pay extra money to get the place right away, it must be exhausting. In Argentina I went through the same thing, my buenos aires apartment was kind of expensive for citizens but I was able to afford it because I wasable to pay for it since I was a tourist.
    Anyways, I had a great time!

  17. It can be very frustrating at times