Saturday, May 18, 2024

Polaris of Enlightenment

Saturday, May 18, 2024

Polaris of Enlightenment

Alarming rent increases put pressure on Swedish households

Welfare collapse

Published 12 April 2024
- By Editorial Staff
Monthly rent increases of many hundreds of crowns again this year.

After unusually protracted negotiations between the delegations of Sweden’s Tenants’ Association (Hyresgästföreningen) and the housing companies, this year’s rent increases have been finalized. As was the case last year, this will be a severe blow to already hard-pressed working and middle class households.

With increases averaging over five percent, many households have seen their rents rise by between 8 and 12 percent in just over a year.

After intense negotiations, the rents for the country’s rental apartments, especially in the major cities of Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö, have finally been set for 2024. The rents of the two public housing companies, Stockholmshem and Familjebostäder, will increase by 5.6 percent as of January 1, 2024, with the exception of the presumption rent, which will increase by 4 percent.

The companies had originally demanded a 7.5 percent increase, but after several rounds of negotiations and unsuccessful attempts to reach an agreement, the matter was referred to the Rent Market Committee (HMK). When negotiations there also failed, the matter was taken over by an “independent chairman” whose decision on the rent adjustment is final and cannot be appealed.

Anika Mölsä, who lives in one of Stockholmshem’s buildings at Valla torg in Årsta, is furious.

– This year’s increase of 5.6 percent is really hard. Last year’s increase was probably high, and it feels damned unfair that during the good years the property owners got tax reductions and money back without us tenants benefiting. Now that things are even tougher, we have to help pay, but we didn’t get anything in the good years.

Svenska Bostäder Stockholm and the Tenants’ Association have agreed on a local two-year agreement in which the vast majority will receive a 5.35% increase. A few hundred apartments will receive a 6 percent increase, but household electricity is included in the rent. The average increase for the 28,000 apartments will be 4.99 percent.

The housing shortage is acute and rents are rising for households under pressure. Photo: Veidekke/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

“Where should people live?”

In Gothenburg, rents have been set after months of negotiations. The four municipal housing companies have signed multi-year agreements with Hyresgästföreningen, covering about 76,000 apartments, or about a quarter of the city’s population.

The Poseidon and Familjebostäder housing companies have a two-year agreement with an average increase of 5.35 percent this year and 4.45 percent next year.

For Andreas Hedberg, a single father, this means an increase in rent of about 400 SEK. Andreas’ rent has increased by about ten percent in one year – a total of SEK 740 per month. He is concerned about where ordinary people will live if the cost of rent continues to rise.

– I am lucky and can pay it. But if they keep raising the rent by 400 SEK a year, I don’t know where they think ordinary people are going to live. If it’s going to cost 10,000 kronor a month to live in Gothenburg, people will have to move, says Andreas in an interview with Hem & Hyra, the Tenant Association’s member magazine.

On social media like X, people are really angry about the sharp increases.

“As Galenskaparna sings: It should be nice to live, otherwise it doesn’t matter: And speaking of being able to live, soon we will be forced to live on the street for several reasons, me as a sick pensioner and the husband long-term sick / unemployed + both two debts. Grateful that so far electricity and water are included where we live”, a concerned citizen writes on Twitter/X.

“I find it difficult to understand HOW could HGF agree to these rent increasesAll 4.99% Rent increase which will mean About 500 kr more in rent for us About: 11.351 kr in Rent”, replies another.

“Desperate tenants”

Other housing companies, such as Bostadsbolaget and Gårdstensbostäder, have a local three-year agreement with the Tenants’ Association. An average increase of 4.5 percent will apply from April this year, with further increases of 4 percent in 2025 and 3.5 percent in 2026. The agreement covers nearly 28,000 households.

Sofi Bringsoniou, chief negotiator for the Gothenburg Tenants’ Association, is also concerned about the high level of rents and says that many tenants have contacted her in desperation over the ever-increasing costs. She is not satisfied.

– No, I mean the levels are very high. It hurts my stomach. We get calls from tenants who are desperate. Who have received a ten percent rent increase in just a few years: “How am I going to make it?” It’s not fun, says Sofi Bringsoniou.

In Malmö, the 64,000 tenants of the municipal housing company MKB received a two-year contract in January. As of February 1, 24,600 households will see their rents rise by 5.7 percent, one of the highest increases in the country.

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