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RENTING

Eight things to know when renting an apartment in Norway

If you're looking to rent an apartment in Norway, knowing a few things about the country's market could help you on your way.

An apartment in Bergen.
Here are some of the things you need to know about renting apartments in Norway. Pictured is an apartment in Bergen. Photo by Alisha Hieb on Unsplash

Every country’s rental market has its idiosyncrasies. Norway is no different, and there are several things you’ll need to know about before you start searching. 

Have we missed anything important in our guide? Let us know, and we may include your recommendations in a future article. 

READ ALSO: Five Essential words you need when renting a home in Norway

Big deposits required 

To secure a roof over your head in Norway, you’ll probably have to stump up a significant sum of money upfront. The deposit is typically the equivalent of three months rent, with the first month also paid in advance. 

This means you’ll need to have fourth months’ worth of rent money to hand to get the keys to your new place. It is possible to negotiate this down, although not all landlords will want to do it. 

Some landlords may charge foreigners more for an added sense of security, but they cannot demand more than six months upfront by law. 

Using your network can save you a lot of cash

Once you’ve established yourself in Norway and gotten to know a few people, using your network to find a place to live can help save you a lot of dough. 

When I recently moved apartments, the landlord I decided to rent from was an acquaintance of a family friend, whom I hadn’t met. However, having the mutual connection came in very handy as it meant the landlord was willing to lower the deposit from three months to one month, which they otherwise weren’t willing to do. 

In addition, the landlord left more furniture than they initially intended to and sold a television for a knock-down price, This was quite handy because the place I rented previously was fully furnished. 

However, while you may know or be acquainted with your future landlord, it is always recommended to have a proper contract in place.

Looking for a place

The first place many start their search for rented housing will be with letting agents, but many properties in Norway are advertised online. 

In Norway, the most popular online marketplaces are Finn.no and Hybel.No. You’ll need some basic Norwegian under your belt to use these sites, as they aren’t available in English. Many Norwegian landlords advertise their homes on these sites, though, due to the cost of using letting agents, so looking online may give you the best selection. 

The rental market moves quickly 

Quality rental properties throughout the country come on and off the market very quickly — often within two to three weeks. At certain times of the market, such as the end of the summer and the beginning of autumn, rentals in cities go remarkably quickly as students look for a place to live. 

December and the late spring tend to be quieter on the property market. 

How much does it cost to rent? 

One thing to note is significant regional differences in rent, with Oslo being the most expensive place to rent. The average monthly rental price of an apartment in Oslo in the third quarter of 2021 was 14,000 kroner per month, according to Statista.

Cities, in general, are much more expensive, with the average monthly rent for an apartment in Bergen being 13,237 kroner. In Trondheim, an apartment costs 12,503 kroner a month, and a flat in Stavanger will set you back 12,982 kroner each month. 

According to Statistics Norway, the average rent for a two-bedroom place in Norway is 9,320 kroner.

You may have to make use of a communal laundry room 

This is much more common in older blocks in bigger cities, but many will have fellesvaskeri or vaskekjeller, communal laundry rooms and laundry rooms in the basement. 

Even if you opt for a place that’s fully furnished, you may not have your own washing machine. If the apartment doesn’t come with a washing machine, then you can probably get one. 

But if you aren’t settling down in a place for a while, you might not want to lug the machine around wherever you go. In that case, you’ll need to make the most of the laundry facilities. 

Each apartment tends to have its own system for scheduling your turn to do laundry, but it’s better to be early to get the best spots. Your neighbours will show no mercy in filling them up. 

Notice periods

Many rental contracts in Norway will be multi-year leases, usually 2-3 years, although, in reality, you aren’t expected to stay the full duration of the contract. 

Contracts with these multi-year agreements will have notice periods before the first, second and third years where tenants can end the contract without incurring any financial responsibility for the remainder of the let. The notice period is typically three months. 

Make sure to note these notice periods down when you sign the contract so you can plan accordingly. 

Knowing your rights

It’s vital that you know your rights as a tenant to avoid falling afoul of rogue landlords who might try and take advantage. 

Your rights should be outlined in the lease and will be subject to the laws of the Tenancy Act. 

One of the most important rights you need to know about protects you against landlords hiking the rent price up suddenly after you move in. Rent can only be increased in step with the consumer price index and not within the first 12 months of the agreement. 

Among other rules that you should be aware of are landlords being unable to ask for more than one month’s rent in advance. In addition, the landlord cannot enter the home without the tenant’s consent. In addition, if a tenant wishes to terminate a lease, they do not need to give a reason for doing so, while a landlord does need to provide a written explanation. 

The Tenancy Act is available in English on the government’s website

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READER INSIGHTS

READERS REVEAL: What is it like to rent in Norway as a foreigner? 

Renting in another country can be a daunting prospect, and many won't know what to expect. Here's what The Local's readers have said about renting in Norway. 

READERS REVEAL: What is it like to rent in Norway as a foreigner? 

Finding a place to call home is a big decision that can have a massive impact on your quality of life.

While research can help give you an understanding of how the rental process works, nothing is more valuable than hearing the experiences of those who have actually been there and done it. 

Luckily, some of The Local’s readers have been kind enough to share their experiences, both good and bad, on what it’s like to rent in Norway. 

Unscrupulous landlords? 

Unfortunately, the country’s landlords can be a mixed bag, according to those who responded to the survey. 

Mritunjay, from Oslo, who has lived in Norway for three years, said that in the last property they rented, the landlord inspected the property three times and waited until after they had moved out before notifying them of any damage. By this point, it was too late to rectify the issue, and the landlord then demanded a significant amount to repair the damage. 

Other readers also had issues with landlords trying to cling onto deposits. 

“The landlord of the previous apartment won’t return the deposit. We stayed there for four years and two months. We endured noise when he renovated his house and turned the basement into another apartment. There was constant drilling noise and whatnot for 4-5 months. Now he’s looking for tiny wear and tear damage and demanding the deposit. It’s still going on, and it’s completely frustrating,” one resident told The Local. 

READ ALSO: How to resolve disputes with your landlord

Some landlords are better than others

Some residents had much more positive encounters with landlords though.

Alyssa, who has lived in both Trondheim and Oslo, cited “responsive and friendly landlords” as a positive of renting as a foreigner. 

Another reader said they were a fan of some landlord’s hands-off approach. 

“My landlord is super easy-going. He gave me the contract, everything was fine. I paid, he gave me the keys, and we haven’t not spoken for two years,” Diego from Adger said. 

There were other positives too 

Overall, more readers said they had a positive experience of renting in Norway than bad. 50 percent of readers who responded to the survey said they had positive experiences of renting a place in Norway. This is compared to just over a quarter who said that they had mixed feelings about signing a lease in Norway, and just over a fifth who said that their experience of being a tenant in Norway was negative. 

Positives that readers pointed out about being a tenant in Norway were agencies being quick to take care of any issues, the process being relatively straightforward, and there being a good amount of furnished options available. One other respondent said that landlords not being able to enter the house without permission or arranging an appointment first was a plus. 

Large deposits, being ‘ghosted’ by landlords and potential tenants ignored due to the colour of their skin 

Renting isn’t without its drawbacks, though. A reader from southern Norway said that they found that landlords wouldn’t respond based on the colour of their skin. 

“As an American woman of colour, doors (were) closed because of my exotic name and lovely skin colour,” the reader responded when asked about the drawbacks of renting in Norway. 

“Old houses, high electricity prices, (its) difficult to secure a rental house, high rent, bad neighbours and terrible landlords,” Martin, from Oslo, listed as his issues with renting in Norway. 

The most common downside mentioned by international residents was sky-high deposits. The typical deposit is equivalent to three months’ rent, which is a significant outlay for many.  

READ MORE: How much can the landlord ask for as a deposit?

Another issue some tenants said they had was being ghosted by landlords, meaning they never heard back if the apartment had already been let out. 

Is it harder for foreigners to rent in Norway? 

This was the final question we asked readers in our survey, and respondents were split on whether it was easy or not for a foreigner to let a place in the Scandinavian country. 

Slightly more readers said that it was easy to find a place as an international residential than said it was hard. 

Some found it easier because their employers helped with the process or they had agencies to help with the contracts and papers. Others said the process was straightforward if you had an identification number and a Norwegian bank account. 

READ MORE: What are the best banks for foreigners in Norway?

A reader from the US living in Østerås said that they found the process easy due to their nationality and that Norwegians seemed more willing to rent to Americans than other foreigners. 

Those who found the process harder said it was due to a language barrier and some landlords viewing foreign tenants sceptically. One respondent said enquiries sent in English were often ignored.

Another said they didn’t hear back about apartments unless their Norwegian partner handled the process. 

“When I enquire about an apartment, I get no response, and when my Norwegian husband does, he gets responses almost immediately,” one participant said. 

If you have a story on renting in Norway that you feel other international residents could benefit from, you can contact us

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