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Renting in Denmark: How to get refunded if there are defects in your home

Robin-Ivan Capar
Robin-Ivan Capar - [email protected]
Renting in Denmark: How to get refunded if there are defects in your home
Common defects that Danish tenants report in rental homes include water leaks, mould, leaky windows and doors, and heating issues. Photo by Julian Hochgesang on Unsplash

Many tenants in Denmark discover defects in their rental homes at some point during their tenancy. If you're wondering how you can get refunded or get your rent reduced due to such issues, we've got you covered.

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If you're living in a rental home in Denmark, chances are that – sooner or later – you'll be faced with an issue that will affect the habitability of the place in question.

When you find yourself in such a situation, it's important to be aware that tenants in Denmark are provided with specific rights outlined in the Danish Rent Act (Lejeloven).

These rights serve to protect tenants and provide them with avenues for seeking recourse, and it's important to be familiar with the rules that apply.

The most common defects in rental homes

Common defects that Danish tenants tend to find in rental homes include issues such as water leaks, mould, leaky windows and doors, heating issues, and problems with plumbing fixtures – to list just a few.

As Mads Klokkerholm Nielsen, Chief Legal Officer of Digura, which specialises in Danish rental law, told The Local, the first step after identifying such an issue should be to contact your landlord.

"These defects can significantly impact the habitability and livability of the rental property, and in many instances, they are severe. Danish tenants have rights protected by the Danish Rent Act and can initially ask their landlord for repairs.

"Furthermore, tenants can claim a refund or reduced rent in cases where these defects affect the tenant's ability to use and enjoy the rental property – from the time the defect was first complained about and until it has been repaired," Klokkerholm Nielsen said.


How to calculate rent refunds or reduced rent

Once you're sure that the issue you've identified affects your ability to use the rental home, it's a good idea to prepare a calculation to determine the rent refund or reduced rent amount you should request.

There is no single formula for doing this under Danish law, but there are some best practices.

"When it comes to calculating refunds or reduced rent for rental home defects, there is no fixed formula specified under Danish law. The calculation is typically based on the severity of the defect and its impact on the tenant's use and enjoyment of the property.

"The refund or reduction may be determined by considering factors such as the extent of the defect, the duration it persists, any expenses incurred by the tenant to address the issue, and the resulting inconvenience caused.

"In many cases, you calculate the square meters of the total area of the home that cannot be used, which gives you a relative percentage that cannot be used. For example, if it's a 100 square meters apartment, and 20 square meters are unusable, you'll calculate a 20 percent reduction of the rent," Klokkerholm Nielsen said.


What to do if you're unsure whether you should ask for a refund or reduced rent?

According to Digura's legal expert, if you happen upon a defect in your rental home but are unsure whether you should ask for a refund or reduced rent, you should take the following steps:

1. Document the defects: Maintain a record of the defects, including photographs, videos, and written descriptions. This documentation will help support any claim for a refund or reduced rent.

2. Complain to the landlord (in writing): Inform the landlord about the defects promptly and in writing, providing a detailed description of the issues. Request repairs or remedial action to be taken within a reasonable timeframe.

3. Seek legal advice: If tenants are unsure about their rights or how to proceed, they can always contact an expert legal service or a lawyer specialising in tenancy law. In some instances, you may have to pursue legal actions, and, in such instances, it is very important that specific legal steps are taken to claim a refund or reduce rent (such as documentation and written complaints to the landlord).


How to get a refund or reduced rent from a legal perspective?

In Denmark, Huslejenævnet acts as the Danish rent appeals board. You can get the rent appeals board to decide whether your tenancy terms are in accordance with the provisions of the Tenancy Act and the Housing Regulation Act.

You can find more details on Huslejenævnet in The Local's explainer on how and when you should appeal against a landlord in Denmark.

However, Klokkerholm Nielsen told The Local that the rent appeals board does not have the authority to reduce the rent retroactively if there are deficiencies in the rental property.

"Their sole competence lies in demanding that the deficiencies be remedied within a specified timeframe. If the landlord fails to meet this deadline, the rent appeals board can then demand a reduction in rent going forward until the deficiency is rectified.

"If someone wishes to claim a retroactive rent reduction, such claims must be directed directly to the landlord and subsequently to the housing court if the landlord does not comply with the demand," he said.


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