Renting For Members

New record as Stockholm apartment waiting list grows to 810,000 people

Emma Löfgren
Emma Löfgren - [email protected]
New record as Stockholm apartment waiting list grows to 810,000 people
Are you one of many waiting for an apartment in Stockholm? Photo: Christine Olsson/Scanpix

More people are now queuing for a rental apartment in Stockholm than at any other point since records began.

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At the end of August, 810,000 people were registered in the Stockholm housing agency’s waiting list for rental apartments – the highest figure since the agency was founded in 1947, reports Swedish daily newspaper DN.

The queue passed the half million mark just six years ago, and this year it’s growing by more than 4,000 people every month, compared to more than 3,000 last year.

Part of the reason behind the rapid increase may be that rising interest rates are putting more and more people off buying an apartment rather than renting -- or simply blocking them altogether from becoming homeowners. According to the housing agency, cheap apartments are especially popular.

Sweden’s tightly regulated rental market means that so-called “first-hand contracts” are rented out by local authorities or major companies rather than by small, private landlords. They have the benefit of being relatively cheap compared to other countries, so competition tends to be tough.

You generally get your hands on a first-hand rental by signing up for the council’s housing queue. Many Swedes sign up for these queues as soon as they turn 18, so for a lot of foreigners moving to Sweden as adults, getting a first-hand rental is usually a pipe dream, at least in the big cities.


Stockholm’s housing agency in August also rented out the highest number of apartments since 1947, with first-hand leases signed for 2,140 homes. The average wait for these was 9.1 years.


The 810,000 figure doesn’t mean that all of those people are actively looking for an apartment. It is not uncommon to sign up for rental queues even if you’re not thinking of moving any time soon, in order to collect queue points and improve your chances of renting an apartment in the future.

A person may also in theory have been in the queue for their entire life, waiting until selling the family home after retirement to use their points to move into a smaller, low-rent apartment. So when figures say that an apartment went to a person with, say, 30 years’ worth of queue points, it doesn’t necessarily mean that that person had been waiting the past three decades for a home.


But even if individual figures are hard to interpret, the acute rental housing shortage in Stockholm is real and means that people generally do have to wait several years to get a first-hand lease.

The average queue time for an apartment in central Stockholm was just under 18 years in 2022, according to the housing agency, compared to less than six years in neighbouring municipalities such as Nykvarn, Södertälje, Sigtuna, Upplands Väsby, Upplands-bro and Österåker.

In August, the shortest waiting time was one month for a two-room apartment in Södertälje, southwest of Stockholm, and 36.8 years for an apartment for over-65s in Södermalm.


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