Tenant in Denmark? Here are your rights relating to eviction

The Local Denmark
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Tenant in Denmark? Here are your rights relating to eviction
File photo: Brian Bergmann/Scanpix Denmark

Tenants in Denmark have a number of legal protections from rental contract terminations, writes Frederik Reichstein, marketing manager and co-founder with housing rental consultants Rent Guide.

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Those unfamiliar with Danish law relating to renting property may feel a little reticent about, for example, starting a case to lower rent. "What if my landlord gets mad? What if he kicks me out?"

This article provides a short guide to your rights as a tenant, and under what conditions you can be evicted.

There are different rules depending on whether or not your rental contract has a time limit. More details about time-limited leases later.

If there is no time limit stated in your rental contract for a full apartment, there are a number of ways your landlord can terminate your lease. If none of these are applicable, you shouldn't have anything to fear in terms of being kicked out.

1. Your landlord wants to move in himself

If you are living in an apartment that your landlord owns or cooperatively owns (that's called 'andel' in Danish), he or she has the right to terminate the lease if (1) he or she is going to move in to the apartment himself; (2) he or she owned the apartment when the contract was signed; and (3) it is the only apartment that he or she owns.

If your landlord can't meet condition two or three, he can still terminate the lease. This is where it gets a bit technical, because there are some conditions where the rules might be different.

If your landlord is the owner of the apartment, the contract must specifically state that your landlord can evict you if he is going to move into the apartment himself.

The Danish Housing Board might make a decision in your favour under certain conditions, for example if you have rented the apartment for a long time or if it is deemed very difficult for you to find another apartment. This makes it harder for professional landlords to evict tenants.

It should be noted for these conditions that if your landlord does not actually move into the apartment after the lease is terminated, he will be held responsible.

2. You fail to comply with 'good practice and behaviour'

Your landlord can terminate your lease if you do not comply with what's called 'good practice and behaviour'. This might seem a little fuzzy and an easy way for your landlord to evict you. However, he or she has to prove that your non-compliance is at a substantial level. So he can't just kick you out because you had five friends over for a birthday party.

At least one written warning is required before your landlord can terminate due to 'bad practice and behaviour'.

You should also note that, if your landlord tries to terminate your lease based on any of the above conditions, there will still be a one-year notice. Thus, no matter what, you will not be thrown out immediately but will have plenty of time to find a new place to live.

However, if the tenant doesn't apply to the basic requirements, for example not paying rent or using the apartment for business purposes, the one-year notice will no longer apply.

3. Your apartment has a time-limited lease

When it comes to contracts with a stated time limit, the rules are a little different.

Your contract must state explicitly that it is possible to end the lease before the agreed period has come to an end. If nothing is stated, the lease is interminable - very good to know!

Tenants can get time limits removed from contracts by bringing a case before the Housing Board. Cases must be started within a reasonable time period before the lease ends - usually at least one month before and the sooner the better.

The time limit can also be cancelled if the landlord did not have a legitimate reason to put a time limit on the lease. The assessment of this is based on four conditions:

(1) Does the landlord want to live in the apartment again? In this case it also applies that he will be held responsible if he does not actually move into the apartment.

(2) How strongly is the landlord affiliated with the apartment? A strong affiliation could, for example, be if the landlord has owned the apartment for many years.

(3) Does the landlord want to sell the apartment? This is only a legitimate reason if the landlord is actively trying to sell the apartment during the period of your lease.

(4) Has the tenant been made aware of the reason why there was a time limit on the lease? If no explanation is stated to why there should be a time limit on the lease, it can be cancelled.

It is also well worth knowing that if you as a tenant still live in the apartment one month after the end of the time limited lease, the time limit will be removed.

If you are struggling to make sense of the above, or you are unsure if your situation actually applies, Rent Guide is happy to answer any questions you may have. Just send us an email and we will take a look at your case.

An exchange stay in Oregon demonstrated to Frederik Reichstein life as an expat and the challenges that follow. Frederik works as marketing manager for Rent Guide, which takes on cases for expats and others who are paying rent above the Danish regulations.

The Local is not responsible for legal advice contained in this third-party contribution.

READ ALSO: Danish rental firms 'con' foreign workers: report


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