February 1, 2001
For the past few years there has been a strong economic growth in Denmark. It is reflected on the housing market with prices going up on owner-occupied housing. Very few subsidized housing to let is being built.
Right to buy
The Danish act of tenancy has a special regulation on the "right to buy". Tenants have the right to buy a rental housing at a price that the owner can get from another one on the open market. To many tenants this regulation has been very useful. The rental houses change into a co-operative housing association owned by the members, of which many were the former tenants.
The effects of urban renewal in major Danish towns have removed many unhealthy, cheap houses and established modern flats at a high rent. All this has influenced the majority of Danish towns in which there is a strong economic growth.
In greater Copenhagen area the pressure on the housing market is very hard. This fact is an increasing problem in the university towns, where young people move to study. A lot of private people make good money on letting out flats, rooms and houses to especially young people.
The Danish housing market is highly populated by one-parent families. Every sixth family at the maternity age is a single parent. This requires a special supply of flats. A large number of minor ones with modern equipment.
Rent control boards
A new bill in favour of tenants living in flats and houses owned by private persons and companies have recently been passed by the Danish Parliament.
The act includes rent control boards in the whole country. The boards are allowed to decide about maintenance, the size of rent, repair, heating and water bills, deposit and so on. Now the tenants need not bring a case before the court any more. Each town council decides whether the rent is to be fixed according to budget or to market. If market the control boards will have to make use of comparable houses and flats in the neighbourhood as for position, size, age, maintenance and equipment.
Housing, immigrants, refugees and subsidized housing
Concerning the matter of immigrants and refugees the Danish Parliament has recently passed a bill on the maximum of persons living in a flat. This law has been introduced due to the fact that too many members of foreign families have been registered with the National Registration Office compared to the number of rooms in the flats/houses. In short: The flats were overpopulated (more than 2 persons per room).
The local authorities are committed to assigning houses and flats to refugees who have succeeded in getting a residence permit in Denmark.
Private houses and flats - and subsidized ones as well - are being assigned to refugees.
The local authorities have the right to assign every fourth subsidized house/flat. In Denmark we have got about half a million subsidized houses. But in spite of that, a lot of municipal- councils with a liberal or conservative majority do not in most cases have that sort of houses. And they do not want to build that kind of housing. On that background there is a violent political debate going on in Denmark at present.
In many areas with subsidized houses there are social problems very often because houses and flats are being assigned to families in areas which already have got problems. (A socially vicious circle).
Through legislative measures the politicians have tried very hard to create instruments in order to prevent unrest and tensions. The matter of immigrants and refugees is expected to become one of the hot issues in the general election that is to take place within the year ahead.
A description of the Danish housing market:
Detached houses (owner occupied housing)
Being either part of rental housing or separately built blocks.
Flats and houses owned and let out by private persons and companies.
Co-operative dwellings (private)
The tenants have bought the rental housing together and now manage themselves the letting out, maintenance, repair and so on.
Co-operative dwellings (non profit)
Subsidized houses and flats assigned and supervised by local authorities according to specific guidelines.
Flats built especially for young people being educated and let out mostly by non-profit housing societies.
Built especially for young people/students at the universities.
Built for all people and owned/let out by private persons/companies and non-profit housing societies as well.
The Danish Tenants Organisation
The Danish Tenants Organisation is standing in the middle of time of unrest and upheaval. Volunteers being ready for a binding effort for other people are becoming thin on the ground. And so it is within other organisations.
Young people are most focused on projects and are very hard to get to work for NGOs like the Tenant Organisation.
The Danish Tenants Organisation has got few employees, just four people. Our organisation is facing very serious debates and decision making on how to strengthen the Organisation. We also debate on the most efficient ways to get far more members among the tenants.
The membership fee to the head office is 90 DKK (12 Euro, 11 $US) for individuals and 39 DKK for joint members (tenants associations). In the branches the fee ranges from 400 DKK to 500 DKK a year.
Every third year there is a congress and the next one is to take place in 2003.
Lejernes Landsorganisation, The Danish Tenants Association
Reventlowsgade 14, 4th floor
Tel +45-33 86 09 10
Fax: +45-33 86 09 20