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RENTING

Five essential words you need when renting a home in Denmark

Renting a home in Denmark is no walk in the park, especially in the big cities. We can’t find you a flat, but hope we can help you along the way with some useful vocab.

Housing in Copenhagen. A few key Danish words might make finding a place to rent just a little bit easier..
A few key Danish words might make finding a place to rent just a little bit easier.. Photo: Thomas Lekfeldt/Ritzau Scanpix

If Danish is your second language but you feel comfortable enough with it to use in official correspondences, knowing a few key technical words can enable you to put your existing proficiency to reliable use.

Looking for rental housing could be one such situation. In our personal experience, landlords can entirely refuse to communicate in English.

Even in less difficult situations, knowing the right words can make it easier to understand and correctly react to posts on rental housing sites like Boligsiden, when you want to be quick and efficient at responding.

We’ve put together an outline of some of these words, their meanings and the context in which you might use them. If there’s anything important you think we’ve missed, let us know.

READ ALSO: Five essential words you need when speaking to a doctor in Denmark 

Husleje

From the verb at leje (to rent), the husleje is the rent you pay on a property. Related words include lejer (tenant), udlejer (landlord), lejekontrakt (rental contract) and fremleje (sublet).

Other compound words and phrases involving leje are found in rental agreements. You’re unlikely to find them elsewhere but they are important for understanding you contract properly. For example, you will be obliged to move out of the lejemål (property) on the date set by a tidsbegrænset lejeaftale (fixed-period rental agreement).

Opsigelse 

Termination of a rental contract is opsigelse in Danish. This normally applies to giving notice when moving out of your apartment, but your contract can also be opsagt (terminated) by a landlord if you have breached the terms in a way that gives them the legal basis to do this.

You can find more on the legal ins and outs of this here (in Danish).

You might recognise the word from the related at sige op (to quit), usually used when handing in a notice at a job.

Indskud/depositum

 The deposit you must pay before moving in is known in Danish as either the indskud or depositum. You’re also likely to be required to stump up forudbetalt husleje (rent upfront).

Rental contracts can stipulate up to three months of rent upfront, and deposits can also be as much as three months’ rent, meaning you can be faced with paying eye-watering costs equivalent to six months of rent before even getting the keys to your flat.

People who live in subsidised rental housing (almene boliger) can apply to the local municipality for a special loan to pay these moving-in costs. The interest on the rent 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.

Boligstøtte 

Literally ‘housing support’, boligstøtte is a deduction to your rent which takes the form of money paid into your account by the state. You can qualify for it depending on a number of criteria including your income, the size of the property you rent, and how many people are living there (and contributing to the rent).

Tenants in both private and subsidised rental homes can qualify for the subsidy, which must be applied for digitally via the Borger.dk platform.

Ungdomsbolig 

You are allowed to live in an ungdomsbolig (‘youth housing’) if you are enrolled in full time education.

Such housing can be found either with regular housing associations or by applying for an apartment with youth housing associations in the cities in Denmark which have universities and other major educational institutions.

There can be a long waiting list before you are offered an apartment through this route, and you may find a kollegieværelse (room in student halls) is your first point of call for living in Denmark as a student. But various personal factors, including your studies, financial and social situations are taken into account when you apply for a student flat.

You can see a list of the various youth housing associations in Danish university cities here.

READ ALSO: Five key things to know about renting in Denmark

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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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