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Housemates and live-in landlords: What rights do you have as an 'inneboende' in Sweden?

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Housemates and live-in landlords: What rights do you have as an 'inneboende' in Sweden?
If you're happy to share your living space, you could live in a larger property, but should be aware of differences in your rights. File photo: Claudio Bresciani/TT
13:07 CET+01:00
If you're renting in Sweden on a small budget, an apartment-share can be an attractive option. But the rights associated with this type of renting can vary from other types. Here's what you need to know about life as an 'inneboende'.

This article was written for Members of The Local. Read more Membership Exclusives here.

There are a few different ways you can rent housing in Sweden. The most attractive option for many is a förstahandskontrakt (first-hand rental contract), where you rent a rent-controlled apartment directly from the building association, and are able to stay there long-term. However, in Sweden's major cities you need to wait in a 'queue' system for many years in order to access these contracts, so most people have an andrahandskontrakt, meaning they sublet from someone who either owns the property or who is themselves renting it first-hand.

READ ALSO: What rights do I have as a second-hand renter in Sweden?

But another option is to rent a room or part of an apartment, which in Swedish is called being an inneboende (literally meaning 'living-in', but usually translated as 'lodger' in English).

An inneboende typically has more limited rights than someone with a first- or second-hand contract, so although it can be a cheaper option, it's important to weigh up the pros and cons and understand the agreement you're entering into.

What type of living space will you get?

As an inneboende, you'll often share a bathroom, kitchen, and living space such as a living and/or dining room. The term also covers people who rent self-contained areas that are part of someone else's property, for example if you're staying in a converted basement or attic.

However, if you have your own kitchen and separate entrance, it's usually a second-hand rental contract that should apply, which gives the tenant a slightly stronger legal position – but in this situation, they need to receive permission from the building association (if they do not own the property) in order to sublet to you.

Note also that if your landlord doesn't actually live in the apartment, then the rental is considered as an illegal second-hand sublet. This is the case even if, for example, one of the rooms is kept locked and not usable by the tenant.

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'Reasonable rent'

When it comes to the amount of money you're charged, make sure to do your research. As a rule of thumb, an inneboende should pay the proportion of the total rent equivalent to the proportion of living space they can use, plus an extra 10-15 percent if the room is furnished, and a reasonable proportion of any further expenses such as TV, water, internet and electricity.

A landlord is not allowed to make a profit on renting part of their apartment out to an inneboende, although they are allowed to cover their own costs.

If you believe you have been overcharged, you can apply for a free review at rent tribunal Hyresnämnden, and if the ruling is in your favour, you could get a reduced rent going forward, and if you're renting from someone with a first-hand rental contract, you might even receive a refund amounting to the difference between the 'reasonable rent' and the amount you paid. To take advantage of the latter, you must start the proceedings within three months after moving out of the apartment. Some municipalities also offer advice sessions to tenants, called Hyresrådgivning or something similar. 

However, it's always much better if you're able to verify you're being charged a reasonable rent before you move in. A good landlord should be happy to show you the breakdown of cost, and you can do your research by looking at prices for apartments of a similar size and location.

Check the contract

Make sure to write a contract (you can find templates online) and ensure you've understood it fully. Even if you're planning to live with someone you know, this could prove very helpful in settling any future disputes.

It should include a few crucial things like the length of the rental period, what's included (for example, which rooms you can use, which appliances and/or kitchen equipment you can use, whether Internet/TV is included), the amount of any deposit and conditions required to have this returned, and the notice period.

It's important to cover everything you can think of, to avoid any potential unpleasant situations such as the landlord refusing to let you use the internet or appliances if there's any disagreement. You will also need to agree to any rules set out by the housing association, which usually include things like no smoking in public areas and no loud noise after 10pm.

And you might want to discuss other household rules, such as a cleaning schedule and kitchen usage, beforehand to avoid any surprises after moving in. This may be especially important for newcomers to Sweden, for example if you plan to do cooking after 9pm, which is unusual in Sweden.

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Photo: Fredrik Sandverg/TT

Different rights compared to sublets

One right that applies to second-hand renters and not to those living as an inneboende is that second-hand renters have the right to exclusive use of the property and landlords may not enter without permission. Obviously, this isn't the case if you're living in the landlord's home, but you might want to include a clause in the contract about having your own lock, for example.

The other big difference is that many first-hand contracts include the so-called right of possession (besittningsskydd), meaning that after two years living in the apartment, the tenant has the right to stay there even against the landlord's will. This never applies as an inneboende (and in practice, is extremely rare if you have a second-hand contract).

And bear in mind that living as an inneboende is different from living as a sammanboende (co-habiting partnership, which only applies to couples living together in a romantic relationship, where both are registered as tenants).

As an inneboende, the landlord has the right to invite their own guests over, for example, and they can also put restrictions on whether you're allowed to have guests over, as well as how many guests and how long they can stay. That's because they're the one who's ultimately responsible for guests in the apartment and any damage they may cause. If it's important to you to be able to have guests over, make sure to discuss this beforehand and include it in the contract.

Like second-hand tenants, those who live as an inneboende do not have the right to make changes to the apartment, such as repainting walls or installing fittings, unless specifically agreed in the contract.


Photo: Janerik Henriksson/TT

Notice and permission

But living as an inneboende, you do still have some rights which are important to be aware of.

One of the most crucial is the right to uppsägningstid (notice if you need to leave the property). In most cases, an inneboende has the right to three months' notice if your landlord wants you to leave the property. And this usually applies both ways, so you may need to give your landlord three months' notice before leaving the apartment. But you can agree in your contract on a shorter period of notice.

Another advantage of being an inneboende compared to a sub-letter is that the building association cannot deny your landlord the right to have an inneboende. On the other hand, they are able to deny the right to sublet the apartment through a second-hand contract, meaning that second-hand tenants need to make sure their landlord has received permission (otherwise they risk being evicted).

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More than one inneboende

In some cases, a landlord rents out more than one room to different tenants, and this is allowed without needing to ask for permission from the housing association.

No matter which inneboende moved in first, it's up to the landlord to decide on things such as when, whether and how many guests are allowed, so bear that in mind if your landlord has more than one room to rent out in their property.

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