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HOUSING

Deposits, complaints and registration: Five key things to know about renting in Denmark

The Danish rental housing market can seem like an intimidating and impenetrable place. Here are five vital tips to help you as a newcomer looking for a place to rent in Denmark.

Deposits, complaints and registration: Five key things to know about renting in Denmark
Photo: Emil Helms/Ritzau Scanpix

How do I make sure I am not being overcharged for rent?

In Denmark, the rent determination rules vary between unregulated and regulated municipalities. In regulated municipalities, there is an additional difference in these rules depending on whether or not the building consists of one to six leases or more than seven leases.

Generally, rent must correspond to the value of the lease which is determined by comparing the rent for similar leases according to location, type, size, quality, equipment, and condition.

To check whether or not the rent you are paying for your lease is appropriate by these measures, you can visit a website like checkrent.dk and enter the relevant information.

If the evaluation suggests that you are paying too much in rent, you first must address this with your landlord and request a reduction in rent. If your landlord is not amenable to your requests, you may then formally bring the case before the relevant appeals board for rented housing, Huslejenævnet, by sending an email or a letter to the board with your rental contract and your invoice for the latest rent collection. 

Cases like this typically take a few months to be settled. If your complaint is successful and was initiated within the first 12 months of taking over the lease, your rent will be reduced retroactively and going forward. Alternatively, if you bring the case after 12 months, rent reduction will be initiated only for the future.

While it can be contentious to complain to your landlord about the price of rent, it is important to know that they are not allowed to evict you because of disagreements even if those pertain to rent. 

Photo: Thomas Lekfeldt/Ritzau Scanpix

What to do if I am not allowed to register my CPR number?

In Denmark, the law requires you to register your place of residence no later than five days after you have changed residence. If you are living and renting a home or an apartment, you must register the address via borger.dk.

It is not rare for internationals and foreigners looking for short-term leases, particularly in Copenhagen, to come across advertisements on real estate platforms that have a term indicating it is not possible to register the apartment with your personal registration or CPR number.

A CPR number is the Danish equivalent of a social security code – it is used for personal identification and registration. It is also particularly important for health care reasons as an individual’s CPR number and their home address are displayed on their yellow health insurance card.

READ ALSO: Is life in Denmark impossible without a personal registration number?

Whenever you register at a new address, you receive a new yellow health insurance card and if you move to a new municipality, you also receive a new doctor. Therefore registering your new address is also of serious importance for having up to date information within the medical and health care system. 

Landlords may advertise “No-CPR-Registration” apartments if the property is registered as a “temporary” residence by the owner.

Forbidding tenants from registering an address at their property enables landlords to avoid reporting rental income and paying taxes on that income.

If you come across these ads, it is advisable to seek other available leases. If you rent an apartment without registering your CPR number, you risk not having up-to-date medical information and receiving a local doctor. You also risk legal troubles if someone reports that you are a resident in a property that is technically occupied by someone else.

File photo: David Leth Williams/Ritzau Scanpix

How do I ensure fair treatment about getting my deposit back?

When you move into a rental property, the landlord has the right to charge financial security from you. Landlords may charge up to three months’ prepaid rent, three months’ deposit, and a payment of rent for the first month — totalling an eye-watering seven months’ rent. 

The deposit is the way for the landlord to ensure that repairs can be made and painting can be done after you vacate the lease. If you damage the property and need repairs or the landlord believes the apartment needs to be painted, they can use the security deposit to cover these costs. If damages exceed the funds in the security deposit, the landlord can collect the remaining amount from you. 

According to Danish law, lejeloven (the Rent Act) does not specify a deadline for when the landlord is required to repay the deposit. They must simply repay the deposit as soon as they have evaluated and covered the costs of potential damage to the property. It is the landlord’s responsibility to prepare and present a statement outlining repairs on which the deposit has been used.

Importantly, the landlord may not charge you for more than the costs of normal renovation. Under the Rent Act, tenants are not expected or responsible for leaving the leased property in any better condition than it was when they moved in. Therefore the deposit may only cover repair costs that exceed the ordinary wear and tear that comes with living. Because of this, it is important to take pictures or videos of the apartment when you move into the property so that you can have documentation of its condition at the beginning of the lease. 

How do I file general complaints or address noise issues in my building?

If you have an issue with your living situation, whether it pertains to your apartment specifically or something in your building, the first step is bringing it to your landlord. Much like the rent disputes discussed earlier in the article, discussing issues with your landlord is always the first step in conflict resolution. 

If you are experiencing loud noise in your building, therefore, you should first bring this up with your landlord by specifying the dates and times of the noise. You should also describe the nature of the noise and where it is coming from. All of these things should be done in writing. After you have this conversation with your landlord, they should send the noisy tenant a written warning indicating the dates and times of the noise and encourage the tenant to behave differently in the future. 

Hopefully, the behaviour changes and the noise is not an issue again. If the noise continues, the case may either be brought before the rental housing board board or a housing court, or if it is a really extreme case the landlord may terminate the noisy tenant’s lease. 

If for some reason, your landlord is not responsive to your noise complaints: As in other cases when there is a disagreement between a tenant and landlord over an issue, you may bring the noise complaint directly to the appeals board Huslejenævnet to be addressed. This is important to note because sometimes landlords will rent out apartments in the building to family members or friends and will be slow to address noise complaints by other tenants. If the noise or disruption is persistent and unchanging, you may bring it yourself before the municipality’s rent board.

File photo: Ida Marie Odgaard/Ritzau Scanpix

How do I ensure that my contract is respected or that I’m allowed to stay the full length of my lease?

There are very few circumstances in which a landlord may terminate the lease of a tenant.  The following examples are the only exceptions:

  • The landlord wants to live in the rented property themselves
  • The property must be demolished or extensively renovated
  • The tenant lives in the property as part of his work and has resigned from the employment relationship 
  • The tenant has breached good practice or other parts of the tenancy agreement (like has been exceedingly noisy or disruptive to the building)

If the tenant has broken building rules and has not been complying with good practice (noise, for example), the eviction goes into effect immediately. This is contingent upon the landlord having provided successive written warnings to the tenant. In all of the other circumstances, the landlord must give a certain amount of notice to the tenant before they must move out. If it is just a room that the tenant is renting, the landlord must give one month’s notice. Otherwise, the landlord must give a one-year notice. 

Sources: Lejeloven, Boligportal.dk (1), Boligportal.dk (2)

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RENTING

EXPLAINED: What is a Danish ‘housing association’?

You might have heard the term ‘boligforening’ or housing association in Denmark. Perhaps you live in an apartment managed by such an association. But what are they exactly and what is their role?

EXPLAINED: What is a Danish 'housing association'?

A boligforening is an association which, according to the Danish dictionary, “owns housing and rents its apartments out to its members”. So while you’d probably translate the word to “housing association” in English, what a boligforening does and its role in the Danish housing landscape takes a bit more explanation.

It is important to note the difference between the two main types of rental housing in Denmark: private rentals and almene boliger (literally, ‘general housing’), a form of subsidised housing.

For almene boliger, local municipalities put up 10 percent of building costs and in return have the right to decide who is allocated one in four available apartments, enabling them to provide housing to municipal residents who need it. The housing therefore plays a role in the social housing provision.

This type of housing is normally managed by a boligforening or housing association. Rent goes towards costs of running the housing and to pay off the housing association’s loans, which means property owners aren’t profiting from rents and prices are controlled.

Aside from housing assigned by the municipality, almene boliger are open for anyone. However, to get one, you must get to the top of a waiting list, which you join by signing up with associations (hence the stipulation of “members” in the dictionary definition) which operate housing in the city where you live (or want to live).

In Copenhagen or Aarhus, it can take years to get to the top of these lists, while in smaller cities you might get an offer in weeks or even days.

As such, newcomers to Denmark must often turn to the private rental market if they are living in one of the main cities.

READ ALSO: Deposits, complaints and registration: Five key things to know about renting in Denmark

People who live in almene boliger can apply to the local municipality for a special loan to pay their deposit when moving in. The deposit is likely to be a significant cost because deposits can be as much as three months’ rent.

Additionally, rental contracts can stipulate up to three months of rent upfront, meaning you can be faced with paying eye-watering costs equivalent to six months of rent before even getting the keys to your flat.

The interest on the loan is very low and it is usually only paid back when you are returned your deposit (or what’s left of it) after moving out.

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