Tenant protection laws are neutral

November 29, 2006

Rents: Can landlord and tenant freely agree rents in Norway?

The Norwegian rental market is free. However rent may not be agreed that is unreasonable compared with that normally obtained in agreements for newly rented property let on similar terms. But in practice this provision is not onerous to the landlord.

If no specific rent has been agreed on, the landlord or tenant may demand a rent corresponding to that normal in similar property let on similar agreement terms. Cases will be heard either by the Conciliation Court (forliksrådet) or by the Rent Disputes Tribunal (Husleietvistutvalget).

Either party may request that the rent may be revised without termination of the tenancy, but the revision must not be more than the difference in the retail price index since the previous fixing of the rent, and may not take place until one year after the previous rent fixing.

Dwellings in old pre-war housing with 4 or more units in Central Oslo have low, regulated rents, but this regulation will be removed by 2010.

Deposits

No more than six months’ deposit may be asked. The deposit must be placed in a special account paying a normal rate of interest in a finance institution in Norway. The tenant may demand payment from the finance institution of interest earned on the amount.

What rights do landlords and tenants have in Norway, especially as to duration of contract, and eviction?


Tenancy agreements may be for specified or unspecified terms.

  • Agreements for specified terms


    Leases for residential buildings owned by ‘professional landlords’, i.e., anyone not subletting their own home, must have minimum terms of three years.

    Agreements for specified terms expire at the end of the tenancy period, without notice. If the tenancy in fact continues for more than three months after the expiry of the agreed period, and the landlord does not request the tenant to move in writing, the tenancy agreement becomes an unspecified term agreement.

    As a general rule tenancies are not automatically renewable, unless this has been previously agreed.

  • Agreements for unspecified terms


    Unless otherwise agreed, a tenancy for an unspecified period may be terminated by the tenant three months from the end of the current calendar month .

    However an unlimited tenancy may only be terminated by the landlord if:

    • The property is to be used as a dwelling by the landlord himself or by a member of his household
    • The property must be vacated owing to demolition or alteration
    • The tenant has breached the tenancy agreement, e.g., has seriously braching his obligation to pay rent, has seriously neglected his maintenance obligations despite a written notice from the landlord; has transferred the use of the property to other persons and continued to do so, despite a written notice from the landlord; etc.
    • Other objective grounds

Notice must be given in writing, stating reasons, and informing the tenant of all his rights.

The eviction process is taken care of by a public body called ‘Namsmannen’. The tenant is first warned, and then asked to move, and then evicted. The main reason for evictions is non-payment of rent.

The tenant is entitled to have living with him his/her spouse or cohabitant, and his/her own or spouse’s or cohabitant’s relatives in direct line of scent or descent or foster children. The tenant has no right to transfer his rights or obligations to other persons without the consent of the landlord. The tenant may not make alterations to the rented property without consent of the landlord. At the end of the tenancy, the property must be in good order, given normal wear and tear, but not restored to its original condition.

How effective is the Norwegian legal system?


EVICTION FOR NON-PAYMENT OF RENT

Duration until completion of service of process 7
Duration of trial 300
Duration of enforcement 58
Total Days to Evict Tenant 305
Courts: The Lex Mundi Project

Legislation

The Law of Tenancy (2000) is the ruling law.

Brief history: Recent changes in Norwegian landlord and tenant law

In the 1970s a deregulation of the housing sector began, and now Norway has a liberalized housing market, similar to the USA or Australia. The Law of Tenancy (2000) removed the last rent controls, with the exception of Oslo pre-war housing. There is broad political consensus that the rental market constitutes an important part of the overall housing market, which requires numerous rental houses to function properly; in addition, a well-functioning rental market is believed to stabilize the price of owner-occupied houses.

At the same time, there is an emerging consensus that the free market does not provide sufficient housing for poor. In 1998 the Government agreed that the state should finance a new non-commercial rental housing sector, with the aim of building 50,000 new non-commercial rental dwellings over the next 10-15 years, located in the biggest towns, with low and regulated rents.

 

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