Accessible housing – how to make it possible for low-income households to find housing

Hans Lind

In recent years, the housing shortage in Sweden has increased. Queues to rental apartments have become longer and house prices have soared.

atkomliga-bostader.pdf 643.5 KB PDF

The book discusses policies in three different areas:

New construction. It is argued that the level of new construction is too low as the incentives for both municipalities and investors are too weak. The central government needs to be more active both in requiring municipalities to plan for more land, and in giving guarantees to investors that target lower income households. The planners also need to think in terms of housing for different income groups when an area is planned, mixing housing with different qualities and for both long and short-term renters. For example, rents are lower when extending the current contract with an existing tenant rather than when writing a contract with a new tenant.

Renovation policies. When there is a shortage of inexpensive apartments then it is important to reduce the pace of renovation. The Swedish rent regulation system needs to be changed since current rules make it very profitable to increase the standard in the apartments as rents then can be increased. Also, when renovations are carried out, apartments should be renovated to different standards.

Access to the existing stock. Many landlords today have rules that contracts can only be given to households with an income above a certain limit. It is argued that this should be seen as discrimination in cases where households have no payment defaults. The policies of banks also make it very difficult for households to enter the ownership market if they do not have high income and high wealth. Different forms of government guarantees are needed. Inspiration can here be found from Norway.