Property For Members

EXPLAINED: What is Denmark's co-operative housing system?

Emma Firth
Emma Firth - [email protected]
EXPLAINED: What is Denmark's co-operative housing system?
Around one-third of housing in Copenhagen is co-operative associations. Photo: Niels Ahlmann Olesen/Ritzau Scanpix

Denmark has a unique co-operative housing system called an "andelsboligforening", which doesn't involve landlords or rent but isn't subject to market prices.


Denmark's housing system consists of three main areas: An owned home (ejerbolig); rented home (lejebolig) and co-operative home (andelsbolig).

What makes this form of housing unique, is that when you buy an andelsbolig, you buy a share in the association that owns the whole building, equal to the value of the apartment. You are then a member of that co-operative association. 

Co-operatively owned housing accounts for around one-third of the housing stock in Copenhagen.

Where can I find an andelsbolig?

There is no central register of co-operative housing associations. Some are sold through newspaper adverts, online sites including DBA and estate agents. Some older co-operative apartments are sold through waiting lists, which can be years long and also hard to find and join. There is also some controversy surrounding the selling of andelsboliger, that some existing tenants choose to sell their share to a friend rather than using the waiting list.

How do I buy an andeslbolig?

The price of the andeslbolig is calculated as a percentage value of the entire co-operative development, and takes into account the building’s outstanding debt and improvements. So the asking price cannot be set by the seller but the board of the co-operative housing association. As andelsboliger are not subject to market prices, you generally don't make money on your property but you don't lose it either. 

When you join a housing co-operative, you pay a lump sum to the association like a house deposit, and then pay a monthly charge for your home. Although the lump sum is often relatively large, it is less than buying an owned home (ejerbolig). The monthly charge covers an ongoing housing tax (rent). The housing tax covers the co-operative housing association's expenses for interest and instalments on the association's loans, administration, renovation, property taxes and maintenance.


READ MORE: What do foreigners need to know about buying a home in Denmark?

What is the board of co-operative housing association?

In housing co-operatives, there is a board with elected residents, who are responsible for overseeing building maintenance, responding to emergencies, and the administration of new households moving in. All residents can have a say on the board and voice how they think the building and common spaces like the courtyard and laundry rooms are run.

In housing co-operatives, the board also establishes the rules for rental. So if the co-operative's bylaws state that the apartments can only be used by members, then it is not legal to rent out your apartment, whether on regular long-term leases or through platforms like Airbnb.

READ MORE: What are the rules if you want to Airbnb your home in Denmark?


Where can I find out more?

It is always worth seeking advice before buying property. Estate agents, lawyers and can provide more information about joining a co-operative housing association.

It is important to have an overview of the co-operative association's financial situation before buying. In  particular, whether the property's value by the board is based on public assessment, private valuation or the acquisition price.

It is also worth asking the size of the association's debt, in relation to the value of the property. If the property value significantly drops, the monthly housing tax could be raised and if some members cannot afford the increase or are able sell their homes, it could mean costs are imposed on other members. 

READ MORE: The must-have vocab for buying a flat or house in Denmark



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