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CRIME

Sweden’s first case against an overpriced rental goes to court – two years after law change

For the first time, a Swedish landlord has been prosecuted for overcharging their tenant and subletting their apartment without permission from their own landlord.

Sweden's first case against an overpriced rental goes to court – two years after law change
The tenant was charged around 3,000 kronor more each month than the price allowed by law. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

Sweden tightened its rules on subletting in October 2019, introducing a maximum two-year jail sentence for people found guilty of overcharging their tenants.

The landlord who is first to be prosecuted under the new laws is a man in his 40s, according to Hem & Hyra which was first to report on the case.

He was paying 6,527 kronor in monthly rent for the apartment in Hässelby, northern Stockholm, and the law states that a secondhand tenant or subletter should only be charged around 10-15 percent more than this (to cover bills and furniture). Instead, he allegedly charged at least two tenants 10,500 kronor.

The rules for people who own their apartment and sublet it are slightly different, since the base amount can be calculated based on what it would cost to get a new mortgage on the apartment, which means that subletting from someone who owns their apartment is often more expensive than subletting from someone who rents.

The case in Hässelby came to light after neighbours informed the property owner last winter that there were a lot of non-residents coming to and from the apartment. 

Then, the company that owns the apartment asked one neighbour to keep a log of who was living in the apartment and when moving companies were seen, which they then provided to police. Additional evidence included the advert for the sublet on classifieds site Blocket as well as text messages between the subletter and his tenants. The man denied the allegations when questioned by police.

As well as overcharging for the monthly rent, the charges allege that the landlord had not requested permission to sublet from the housing company, which is compulsory in Sweden. Secondhand tenants should always ask to see proof of this permission being granted, as well as a breakdown of the costs, to guard against illegal sublets.

The punishment for illegal sublets can include fines or even a jail sentence for the landlord, of up to two years.

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CRIME

Sweden breaks yearly record for fatal shootings

A man was shot to death in Kristianstad, Skåne, late on Thursday night. He is the 48th person to be shot dead in Sweden this year, meaning that the previous record for most fatal shootings in one year set in 2020 has now been broken.

Sweden breaks yearly record for fatal shootings

“Unfortunately we can’t say more than that he’s in his twenties and we have no current suspects,” duty officer Mikael Lind told TT newswire.

According to police statistics, this most recent deadly shooting means that 48 people have been shot to death in 2022, meaning that Sweden has broken a new record for deadly shootings per year.

Earlier this week, Sweden’s police chief Anders Thornberg said that this number is likely to rise even higher before the end of the year.

“It looks like we’re going to break the record this year,” he told TT on Tuesday. “That means – if it continues at the same pace – around 60 deadly shootings.”

“If it ends up being such a large increase that would be very unusual,” said Manne Gerell, criminiologist at Malmö University.

“We saw a large increase between 2017 and 2018, and we could see the same now, as we’re on such low figures in Sweden. But it’s still worrying that it’s increasing by so much over such a short time period,” he said.

There also seems to be an upwards trend in the number of shootings overall during 2022. 273 shootings had occured by September 1st this year, compared with 344 for the whole of 2021 and 379 for the whole of 2020.

If shootings continue at this rate for the rest of 2022, it is likely that the total number for the year would be higher than 2021 and 2020. There are, however, fewer injuries.

“The majority of shootings cause no injuries, but this year, mortality has increased substantially,” Gerell explained. “There aren’t more people being shot, but when someone is shot, they’re more likely to die.”

Thursday’s shooting took place in Kristianstad, but it’s only partially true that deadly gun violence is becoming more common in smaller cities.

“It’s moved out somewhat to smaller cities, but we’re overexaggerating that effect,” Gerell said. “We’re forgetting that there have been shootings in other small cities in previous years.”

A report from the Crime Prevention Council (Brå) presented last spring showed that Sweden, when compared with 22 different countries in Europe, was the only one with an upwards trend for deadly shootings.

Temporary increases can be seen during some years in a few countries, but there were no countries which showed such a clear increase as Sweden has seen for multiple years in a row, according to Brå.

The Swedish upwards trend for deadly gun violence began in the beginning of the 2000s, but the trend took off in 2013 and has continued to increase since.

Eight of ten deadly shootings take place in criminal environments, the study showed. The Swedish increase has taken place in principle only among the 20-29 year old age group.

When police chief Anders Thornberg was asked how the trend can be broken, he said that new recruitments are one of the most important factors.

“The most important thing is to break recruitment, make sure we can listen encrypted and that we can get to the profits of crime in a better way,” he said.

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