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Practical information from public offices

Renting a house/apartment does not require capital other than for the deposit. If you do not have money for the deposit, you should contact your municipality. Some municipalities can offer to lend you the deposit, while others can furnish a guarantee that some landlords will accept as an alternative to a deposit. If the municipality cannot offer you a loan for the deposit, the alternative is to take up a loan for the deposit in a private bank.

Your rights as a tenant

Your most important rights as a tenant are stipulated in the lease and in the Tenancy Act. The Tenancy Act includes a prohibition against discrimination in tenancy situations. The parties (the landlord and the tenant) are free to decide the amount of rent to be paid at the time the lease is signed. However, once the lease has been signed, the rent can only be increased in step with the consumer price index in the first three years. Index regulation can only take place  after one year at the earliest. The tenant is not obliged to pay rent for more than one month in advance. The rent must be a fixed amount. In addition, it can be agreed that electricity and heating will be paid separately on the basis of consumption. The same applies to consumption-based water and sewage charges. Other additions are not permitted.

The tenant has a right to let his/her immediate family move into the dwelling. The landlord cannot enter the dwelling without the tenant’s consent.

The Tenancy Act does not prohibit the letting of a run-down property, but a building that has not been approved for human habitation, or that is considered a health hazard, cannot be let. Incorrect information about the dwelling given by the landlord will be considered a breach of contract (defect). Damage, faults or other matters concerning the dwelling that the tenant knew about before signing the lease are not considered defects. The landlord is obliged to repair any defects to ensure that the condition of the dwelling is in accordance with the lease. It the landlord does not repair the defects, the tenant can demand a reduction in rent or withhold the rent. If the defects are substantial, the tenant can cancel the lease. Always contact the landlord first if you think there is a defect.
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Lease

You can always demand written lease between landlord and tenant. The lease should include: the parties’ names and addresses, the property to be rented and the amount of rent to be paid. If the landlord demands a deposit, this must be specified in the lease. The period of notice is three months, unless otherwise stated in the lease.

The property should be checked when the lease is signed to make sure it corresponds to the description of the property in the lease. Consider drawing up a list of furniture etc. and its condition. Using a standard contract is advisable.
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Deposit

A deposit is an amount that the tenant pays as security for rent owed or damage to the housing property. The amount may not exceed six months’ rent. The amount must be deposited in a separate account, and neither of the parties may withdraw the amount for the duration of the tenancy. If the landlord demands that the tenant deposit the amount in the landlord’s private account, or that the tenant deposit the amount in cash, the tenant can always refuse to do so. Any fee payable to the bank for opening a separate account is to be paid by the landlord.

When the tenancy expires, the landlord usually gives his/her written consent to the bank to pay the deposit to the tenant. If not, the tenant must request in writing that the bank pays him/her the deposit. The bank shall notify the landlord in writing of the request, giving notice that the amount will be paid to the tenant if the landlord does not instigate legal proceedings (within five weeks after receiving such notice).
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Housing allowance

Housing allowance is a government-financed support scheme for people at a disadvantage in the housing market. The purpose of the scheme is to help households with low incomes and high housing expenses to obtain housing or retain their current housing. The scheme is government-financed and managed by the Norwegian State Housing Bank and local municipalities.

Poor finances do not automatically make you eligible for a housing allowance. Only applicants who satisfy all the requirements will receive a housing allowance. The closing date for the receipt of applications is the 14th of each month. If your application is successful, the allowance will be paid on the 10th of the following month.

Applications should be submitted to the housing office in your local municipality, or online via www.altinn.no. For further information, contact your local housing office.
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Terminating the tenancy

A tenancy can be entered into for a specified (‘non-terminable’) period or an unspecified (‘terminable’) period.

A lease for a specified period expires without notice at the agreed time. Out of consideration for the tenant, the main rule is that leases for specified periods cannot be entered into for a period shorter than three years. As a tenant, you are therefore never bound by a lease for a specified period that is valid for less than three years. If the parties agree and it is not otherwise specified in the lease, a lease for a specified period can nevertheless be terminated.

A lease for an unspecified period runs until it is terminated by either party. If the lease does not specify a period of notice, the period of notice is three months. The tenant can terminate the tenancy without reason. The termination should be in writing. The landlord can terminate the tenancy if he/she has justifiable grounds for doing so. Termination by the landlord must be in writing. The tenant can object to the termination, and the termination will lapse if the landlord does not take the case to the Conciliation Board/The Rent Disputes Tribunal in Oslo, Akershus, Bergen and Trondheim (HTU -Husleietvistutvalget)
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