Property For Members

Summer houses in Denmark: What are the rules and when can you live in them?

The Local Denmark
The Local Denmark - [email protected]
Summer houses in Denmark: What are the rules and when can you live in them?
Housing in municipal summer house zones cannot generally be lived in year-round. File photo: Henning Bagger/Ritzau Scanpix

Many people in Denmark spend their holidays living in summer houses, but what are the rules for staying at the properties around the calendar?


Summer houses are properties in which residence is not usually permitted year-round. Rules preventing permanent use are in place to ensure summer house areas remain recreational in nature; to limit new construction in valuable and uninhabited coastal areas; and to protect natural landscapes from wear and tear.

Owners of homes which are not summerhouses (helårsboliger) are generally required to ensure that their properties are lived in for at least 180 days per year, either by themselves or by tenants. This is known in Danish as a bopælspligt, literally “obliged residence”. Although it’s not actually mentioned in Danish law it is practiced due to tax rules.

Local authorities decide through zoning laws (lokalplaner in Danish) which housing within their municipal limits are required to comply with bopælspligt rules.


The purpose of these rules is, in part, to prevent unhindered property speculation.

Summer houses are not generally built with full-time residence in mind. As such, they are less isolated and not as well heated as regular housing. That means energy bills will be higher for the time they are used, especially if this is not during the summer.

When am I allowed to live in a summer house?

As well as being required to live in your regular house for at least 180 days of the year due to the bopælspligt, local authorities do not generally permit residence in summer houses in the winter months, meaning from November 1st-March 1st.

This does not mean that summer houses may not be used at all during the winter, but longer stays are not allowed.

Are there any exemptions?

Some circumstances provide exemptions that allow summer houses to be used as permanent residences. There are three main categories.

These are: 1) the summer house was legally permitted to be used as a permanent residence when the area in which it was located was made a summer house area under a zoning plan, and the right to permanent use has not yet lapsed. 2) The local municipality has given the summer house owner special permission, 3) The owner is retired and has owned the summer house for at least a year.


Special permission can also be given by municipalities in a range of circumstances, including owners or leaseholders at essential local businesses like supermarkets who need to live nearby; or people who find that living in summer houses can ease serious or long term health conditions. Applications for special permission (dispensation) are made with the relevant municipality.

When retired people are given permission to live in summer houses, their close families can live with them and may also continue to do so if the person with the special dispensation passes away. Once the family moves, the special dispensation lapses.

It should also be noted that the summer house must be in reasonable condition for the local authority to permit permanent use. A house in very bad condition can be declared unfit for year-round residence (helårsbeboelse) by the authority. A surveyor’s report is often advisable for people who are considering moving permanently into their summer house.

Sources:, Aarhus Kommune


Join the conversation in our comments section below. Share your own views and experience and if you have a question or suggestion for our journalists then email us at [email protected].
Please keep comments civil, constructive and on topic – and make sure to read our terms of use before getting involved.

Please log in to leave a comment.

See Also