How do you find a home in Norway?
There are various ways to find somewhere to live in Norway:
- There are advertisements on the Internet for all types of properties for sale or rent. You can also find advertisements in newspapers, but they are usually the same as the ones you find online. The website Finn.no is the most important channel for buying and selling property in Norway. You also find rental properties on Finn.no or Hybel.no. You can also check classified advertisements in newspapers for rental properties.
- You can contact an estate agent (eiendomsmegler) or a lawyer who acts as an agent for housing. These mediate sales of property, and there are also special agencies for rental properties in the large cities.
- You can apply to rent a municipal property if you cannot find a property yourself or with the help of other public agencies, or if you need a specially adapted property because of age or disability. Contact the municipality where you want to live.
- Students can contact the student organisation (studentsamskipnaden) at the place of study to apply for student accommodation.
Owning and buying property in Norway
Foreign citizens living in Norway and people living abroad may freely purchase housing or property in Norway. However, you should be aware that certain types of property may involve an obligation to live in the property (boplikt) or farm the land on the property (driveplikt). This applies to properties in popular holiday areas and agricultural properties. Agricultural properties may also be subject to a type of birthright (odelsrett). This means that you may lose the right to the property to someone with birthright. The same applies to purchase of a tenant-owned flat, where someone with pre-emption rights can take the flat from you. In all cases, you must be informed of this before you sign the agreement, and you will be given a refund.
There are various types of housing in Norway. They can be divided into three main groups.
- self-owned property (selveierbolig)
- rental property (leiebolig)
- tenant-owned flat (borettslag) / housing cooperative flat (andelsleilighet) / flat in housing company (aksjeleilighet)
A self-owned property is one you own yourself. Nordic citizens can buy property in Norway on the basis of free movement of people, freedom of establishment, and services for citizens in the EEA. When you own a property, in certain municipalities you must pay property tax (eiendomsskatt). You must also pay municipal charges for water and sewage, waste collection and chimney sweeping. Get more details from your municipality.
In housing cooperative/tenant-owned flats, you are renting from a housing association of which you are a co-owner via a share. You buy the right to rent a certain apartment (borett) and pay rent to the housing association, which goes towards maintenance and everyday running of the housing association.
A flat in a housing company is similar to a housing cooperative, but instead of buying a share in the cooperative you buy a financial share with a right to rent a certain apartment. You become a co-owner (aksjonær) in the housing company and have participation rights together with the other shareholders.
Financing a property purchase
Most banks offer mortgage loans for purchase of a house or flat. If you want to buy a property in Norway, you must obtain a loan commitment certificate from a bank before you start to look at properties. The mortgage loan from the bank is paid back over a long period, usually between 20 and 30 years. Contact a bank to find out how much you can borrow and what interest rate the bank can give you. You should have your tax assessment (selvangivelse) and salary slips available to show your level of income. Another requirement is that you must pay 15 percent of the purchase price from your own capital to get a loan.
You can apply for a start-up loan in the municipality if you lack your own capital or have problems financing a property through private banks. The property must meet certain criteria if you are to receive help. You apply in the municipality in which you live. The municipality decides whether you can be granted a loan and how much you can borrow. It is the Norwegian State Housing Bank (Husbanken) that manages the scheme.
Renting property in Norway
There are different types of rental arrangements in Norway, but the most common is to rent a house or flat, or rent a studio/room from another private individual. There are companies that work with professional rentals, but they are generally only found in the largest cities.
In some cases, you can also have a sub-letting contract (framleiekontrakt), where you rent from the person who has the rental contract to the property. In general, sub-letting is not permitted, unless the person sub-letting the property has the approval of the owner.
A deposit is generally required when renting a property in Norway, and it is recommended that you have a rental contract in which the rental conditions are specified. Unless agreed otherwise in writing or orally, it is normal to have a mutual period of notice of three months for ordinary properties and one month for a studio/room.
People with low incomes and high living costs can sometimes receive housing support in Norway.
Regulations about renting a property
Rights and obligations of the tenant (leietaker) and the landlord (utleier) can be found in the Norwegian Tenancy Act. This act stipulates, for example, that an escrow account (depositumkonto) be set up in the tenant’s name. This means that an account must be set up for every rental contract, and it is the landlord who pays the cost of opening an escrow account. Both tenant and landlord have a legal right to be informed before the bank pays out the deposit to the tenant, and vice versa.
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NB! If you have questions regarding the processing of a specific case or application, or other personal matters, please contact the relevant authority directly.