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Housing in Norway

Renting a Property

Norwegians generally own their homes, and the rental market is therefore very limited in Norway. It is very expensive to buy or to rent accommodation in Norway. Rental prices start from around NOK 4,500, just for a small room or studio flat, while prices for whole apartments or houses are much higher than this. However, it is possible to find slightly cheaper properties outside the city centres. Dwellings in old pre-war housing with 4 or more units in Central Oslo have low, regulated rents, but this regulation will be removed by 2010.

Some estate agencies also deal with rental properties, and private landlords sometimes advertise their properties in newspapers or websites. Alternatively, prospective tenants themselves sometimes advertise in the local or national press for a home to rent. In Oslo, the evening newspaper Aftenposten Aften has details of rental accommodation in its classifieds section.

The rental market is free; the Law of Tenancy (2000) removed the last rent controls, with the exception of Oslo pre-war housing. Rents are comparable with that normally obtained in agreements in new lettings of similar properties in similar terms. In practice, this is not onerous to landlords.

Tenancy contracts are normally valid for an initial one year, and subsequently for periods of five years with a termination notice period of three months on the part of the tenant or the landlord. On moving in, a security deposit of two or three months rent is usually payable by the tenant. Notice is not required at the end of the contract if the contract was fixed term. However, if the tenant continues to occupy the premises for more than 3 months at the end of the contract and the landlord does nothing about it, then the agreement becomes an unspecified term agreement.

Within the cities there are higher levels of renting among Norwegians, and many live in housing co-operatives, in which rental and maintenance costs are shared. Oslo has an active Tenants’ Association which protects the interests of tenants and provides legal services to those entering into tenancy agreements or taking legal action in relation to a tenancy.

The most popular area for the expatriate community in Norway is Oslo, although there are also Trondheim, Bergen and Stavanger.

Buying a Property

Individuals and entities of all types are legally entitled to own, occupy, and invest in real estate. Having said that, housing is extremely expensive in Norway, and prices are continuing to rise, with an average increase of 10% between 2005 and 2006. Oslo and the other main cities have the highest housing costs, while the rural areas offer more inexpensive accommodation, built to a good standard.

Although prices are high, Norwegian houses are generally built to a very high standard of construction and are well-insulated and heated. A high percentage of the Norwegian live in detached houses, and it can be quite difficult to find simple, inexpensive housing.

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