In my first eight months in Malmö I lived in four different apartments (a second hand, a first hand, a friend’s floor and an AirBnb). The rental market here is hugely competitive, but don’t be discouraged! I’ve put together some links and tips to help you find somewhere to live.
I will focus on first-hand contracts in this article, as I have less experience of the second-hand market. If you want to use Blocket or a Facebook group to find an apartment, enlist the help of a Swedish person to make sure you don’t get scammed!
If you are looking to rent in Sweden, there are a few types of contracts.
First-hand contracts come directly from a housing association. These are companies that have portfolios of properties – similar to a letting agents in the UK, except the properties are not owned by landlords, they are owned and managed by the housing association.
First hand contracts have the most protection and rights for tenants, and some bills will not be included in the price of the rent (internet and electricity usually). They also tend to be the hardest to get, though I’ll give you some tips below.
Second-hand contracts are subleases- one person has a first hand contract from a housing association, and you rent from them. This comes with less tenant protection and sometimes higher prices. These contracts are much easier to get, from places like Blocket, Facebook groups or personal friends/contacts. Bills tend to be included in the rent.
Some second hand contracts come from people who own an apartment and rent it out. This has its pros and cons, which I will not get into here in detail. Apartment owners have to follow certain rules dictated by their building’s housing board that can be bad if you are a second hand tenant.
I stayed in one of these and the housing board decided to kick out all second-hand contract tenants from the building. This is apparently very rare, and I was given 3 months notice, but it’s important to remember when you consider a contract like this.
These second hand contracts are common when you have a relocation service working with you. Relocation companies tend to have portfolios of private landlords who rent out their apartments second hand. These contracts are often expensive but do include bills.
The Process (First hand contracts)
- Sign up with a housing association list
- Register interest in an apartment
- Be offered a viewing
- Go to viewing (usually with a group of other prospective tenants)
- Be offered the apartment
- Housing association does a credit check on you
- Sign contract
The Queue System
Unfortunately, the queue system in Sweden directly penalises those of us who have just moved here. When you sign up with your personnummer to a housing association’s website, they will add you to their queue. The longer you spend on this queue, the higher priority you get for getting viewings and being offered apartments.
Say you sign up for the queue on June 2nd 2017. You register your interest for an apartment in Malmo on the housing association website on June 3rd.
Someone else signed up for the queue on June 1st, and registered their interest for the same apartment on June 5th. This person will be offered a viewing before you as they have a higher place in the queue, even though they applied for it after you (in most cases.) This is why it is imperative to sign up for housing association queues as soon as possible.
The Boplats Syd queue.
Once you have your personnummer, sign up for Skåne’s official housing queue. This costs around 360SEK.
Though people will warn you off of it as being not worth your time, in Malmö it’s possible to get an apartment from the ‘real’ queue within as little as six months (I did this, through luck and perseverance). It’s nothing like the Stockholm queue (where reportedly it takes 20 years to get a first-hand contract.)
In the Boplats Syd queue you will see apartments from multiple housing associations. Sometimes these apartments will also be listed on the housing association’s own website, and sometimes they will have additional apartments they do not advertise on Boplats Syd, so it is important to register with and check both.
Apartment listings with a (B) after them indicate that people already renting from that association will be preferred. This makes it less likely you will get one of these apartments, if you are looking for your first place.
Other housing associations
These other queues can be split into two – those with a queue system similar to Boplats Syd, and those with a more free-form, merit based system.
https://www.hsb.se/malmo/ (Special case. If you invest money with them, they increase your ‘queue points’ and make it quicker to get one of their apartments. Have not tried myself.)
A note here- all the information is subjective and what I’ve heard from other expats. So take it with a pinch of salt.
These associations ask for your company and salary information and factor this in as a key metric to decide whether they will give you viewings. Therefore if you have a high salary and international company, you are much more likely to get a viewing. Many foreigners find their first apartment this way.
For this reason you should include as much information as possible when filling out your profile with them.
Check queues daily. Apply for apartments as soon as you see one you like.
Many associations have max numbers of apartments you can declare interest in. Usually 5, sometimes 3. Remember this when you’re applying to a lot.
It’s usually not worth applying for places where you are 100+ on the queue when you join (you can see this on Boplats Syd).
Calling associations is apparently more effective, especially for the smaller ones I haven’t listed here.
If there is anything else you’d like more information on, please comment below and I will update this page!