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Cases pile up against Danish landlords over rent hikes

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Cases pile up against Danish landlords over rent hikes
Extended processing times have been reported for rent appeals against landlords in Denmark. File photo: Asger Ladefoged/Ritzau Scanpix

Complaints against landlords for increasing rent are becoming increasingly backlogged in Denmark, according to a media report.

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The waiting time for a case to be assessed by the Danish rent appeals board, Huslejenævnet, has doubled in many areas since 2021, broadcaster DR has reported, based on figures from the Danish Authority of Social Services and Housing (Social- og Boligstyrelsen).

The appeals, which are submitted at municipalities, are piling up with a long waiting list for rent cases to be assessed according to the report.

According to the report, some people are having to wait up to a year and a half for an answer to an appeal after their landlords put up their rents. 

Danish law restricts the amount by which landlords can increase rent, and a 2022 amendment capped this limit at 4 percent due to concerns related to inflation.

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But people whose rents have been hiked have to pay the higher rent while their appeal is under process and face economic uncertainty while the outcome is pending. 

Municipalities in which the problem is particularly severe include Frederiksberg, Hillerød and Høje Taastrup, where average processing times went from 190, 193 and 119 days respectively in 2021 to 416, 333 and 490 days respectively in 2022.

A national organisation for tenants, Lejernes Landsorganisation, called the situation in the Greater Copenhagen area “unacceptable”.

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“It’s important that the appeal boards process the appeals as quickly as possible. It can be a catastrophe for an individual person not to know their rent and it gives a lot of uncertainty about your finances,” the organisation’s chairperson for Greater Copenhagen Claus Højt, told DR.

Højte called for more resources to provide better staffing at municipal level.

Copenhagen Municipality has avoided major additional backlogs with an average processing time of 226 days in 2021 and 260 days last year.

“Cases have become more complex and we have received more of them. We got resources to make more rental appeals boards so we can process more cases and get waiting times down,” a senior official from the municipality, Jesper Hyldal, told the broadcaster.

Meanwhile, the interest organisation for landlords, Danske Udlejere, has advocated for a reduction of case numbers by making it more expensive for tenants to bring their cases to appeals boards. The current fee is 345 kroner.

“Tenants might think they can just as well try it because it has no consequences apart from putting a lot of people to work and straining the system,” the organisation’s chairperson Keld Frederiksen said. “It might be fair if it cost a lot of money, and if the tenant won the case, they get the money back. If the case is lost, so would the money be."

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