Rented apartment (subletting)
There is a difference between subletting a rented apartment and subletting a condominium or house. Here we will deal with all the rights and obligations you have when you are subletting a rented apartment. By subletting we mean that you sublet your entire apartment. If you are only letting a room or a part of the apartment it is instead a live-in tenancy, see Live-in tenancy.
Sometimes it can be difficult to know the difference between live-in tenancy and subletting, especially if the leaseholder lives elsewhere and someone else is living in the apartment but the leaseholder insists that this is a live-in tenancy. In such cases the leaseholder must to prove that they have not in reality relinquished control of the apartment. That one of the apartment’s rooms is locked and thus unavailable to the live-in tenant is usually not enough evidence if the leaseholder is rarely present in the apartment. Letting, in this case, includes leases that are in place without any rent being charged, i.e. free tenures.
What laws apply?
If you are subletting your rental apartment this is governed by the Swedish Tenancy Act (Hyreslagen).
Approval is required
When you are going to sublet your rented apartment you need to apply for permission from your landlord. This is done by sending in a written application to the landlord.
If the landlord does not grant permission, the tenant (you) can apply for permission from the Rent and Tenancy Tribunal. In that case you will need to prove that you have both a compelling reason as to why you cannot use the apartment and reasons why you should be allowed to keep it. According to the law compelling reasons can be for example if you are going to try and cohabit with your partner or you are going to study or work elsewhere.
Your landlord does however have the right to deny permission if there are compelling reasons to do so. Such reasons could be that the proposed subtenant is known to be disruptive. Permission is usually given for up to one year at a time. In total the time interval cannot exceed three years. In cohabiting trial periods, permission is never given for more than one year in total.
If you sublet without permission from your landlord you can lose your contract, meaning you will lose your apartment. Allowing someone else to live in the apartment for free or letting while locking one of the rooms of the apartment is also considered subletting.
Akademisk kvart have set rent thresholds based on the average student’s financial situation. These thresholds can be found here. In the rent we count on electricity, water and heating being included. It is not allowed to charge extra for furniture.
The rent should be reasonable – if it is not the subtenant has a right to be repaid.
Do not charge excess rent! It is in general not allowed to charge a higher rent than the one that you as a leaseholder is paying to your own landlord. A certain add-on for furniture is however allowed. The leaseholder is also allowed to add on an extra charge to the rent if it includes for example a parking space or free electricity. In these cases the leaseholder is allowed to add on a sum that corresponds to the actual cost of these amenities.
If there is an increase in the leaseholder’s rent or the rent is reduced after a decision about so called “phasing”, i.e. the increase of the rent is split into segments, the subtenant’s rent should be adjusted in a corresponding way.
If the apartment is fully furnished it is possible to increase the monthly rent that the leaseholder pays to their landlord by 10-15 percent. If the charge is higher than that or if the rent is seen to be too high the tenant can ask that the Rent and Tenancy Tribunal evaluate your rent. The Tribunal can, if they find that the rent is too high, decide upon repayment of the excess (with interest). An application to the Rent and Tenancy Tribunal can be handed in up to three months after the tenant has moved out of the accommodation and can cover rent for up to a year in the past. The Tribunal do not give preliminary rulings, the tenant needs to submit an application.
For both parties to know what the terms are it is important that there is a written contract – preferably setting out the terms and conditions in as much detail as possible – in a language both can understand.
As a landlord you can ask for a deposit from the tenant as a safety measure, to make sure that the tenant return the keys, take care of the accommodation and cleans it properly before moving out. According to Akademisk kvart’s advertising conditions a deposit is not allowed to be higher than one month’s rent.
It is important that you state clearly in the contract what the deposit regards so that the tenant know what they are obliged to do in order to get the deposit back.
Termination and duration of the contract
Keep in mind that there are mandatory legal obligations for the benefit of the subtenant. This means that if the tenancy period has been set to a year you cannot break this contract ahead of time if you want to move back home for some reason. However, regardless of the agreed renal period the subtenant can always terminate the contract with three months’ notice. Furthermore, the leaseholder, but not the subtenant, is according to the law always bound by a three month notice period when you have an open-ended contract or a set rental period of more than three months.
By way of this it can be recommended to write into the contract that the rental period runs from a certain date and for the time being, with a three month notice period.
Do note that the contract always needs to be terminated in order to expire, both when the contract is open-ended and when you have a set rental period and the subtenant has occupied the accommodation for more than nine months in total.
As the landlord, always remember to waive the tenure in any contract where the subletting carries on for more than two years.
A subtenant never gets any kind of relationship with the property owner (company) or the right to take over the leasehold. The subtenant does, however, get tenure against the leaseholder if the subletting goes on for more than two years.
Therefore, you should always waive the tenure in any contract where the subletting carries on for more than two years.
Before you sign the contract
It is important that the leaseholder, before they submit an application to the landlord, themselves verify that the proposed subtenant is well-behaved and able to pay the rent.
If the subtenant disturbs the neighbours then you as the leaseholder can lose your apartment. Once informed by the landlord, the leaseholder is responsible to without delay ensure that the disruptions come to an end. You should not hesitate to check out friends and acquaintances that you consider subletting to as well.
Before choosing a subtenant you should at least do the following four things:
• Make an appointment to meet up with the proposed subtenant. Then you can try to get a feel for the person in question, and for whether you can trust them or not. This is important since you will potentially enter into a long tenancy relationship with them, which necessitates communication and cooperation.
• Check the subtenant’s solvency. Find out what income they have. Call the Enforcement Agency and see if there are any rulings regarding any payment injunctions (record of non-payment) or ordinary assistance (eviction) against the proposed subtenant. If the income is concerningly low you can ask the subtenant to get a guarantor to sign a contract agreeing to pay the rent of the subtenant does not.
• Call the district court and see if there are any verdicts against the proposed subtenant. Ask for both civil and criminal cases.
• Collect references from employers and other people that can offer an opinion about the proposed subtenant.
Even if the landlord (property company) does not require it, it is in the leaseholder's interest to secure a power of attorney, especially when travelling abroad, so that a proxy can represent the leaseholder in any case concerning the apartment.
Akademisk kvart always recommend that the subtenant get their own home insurance. If the subtenant is an international student, ask them to check what their insurance from their home country covers and whether the more general insurance the student has through the university could act as a home insurance.
Alterations to the apartment
Your tenant, the subtenant, is allowed to put their own personal mark on the apartment. They can for example repaint or change the wallpaper in the apartment. They do not need the landlord’s (your) permission for this, as long the work is professionally done. If alterations are not made professionally your tenant may need to pay for renovations or restorations. They are allowed to hang paintings in the accommodations, even if it says in the contract this is not the case - as this is regarded legally as normal wear and tear.
What you are not allowed to change is the apartment layout, e.g. take down a wall or change or take down permanent fixtures such as cabinets or worktops. Your tenant is also not allowed to put up walls or install a sauna or a kitchen ventilator.
If your tenant would like to change some cabinet doors this is fine as long as they keep the old doors. Those belong to you as the landlord. Your tenant does not have the right to receive money from the landlord (you) for fees relating to the changes they have made to the accommodation if these were not checked with you as a landlord beforehand.
Sometimes you can find clauses in your contract that say that you are not allowed to have pets in your apartment. This is normally not correct! As long as you do not live in a building that is specifically designed for people suffering from allergies or anything similar, you are allowed to have pets. This also means that your tenant is allowed to have pets in the apartment, even if you do not. If your tenant would have a pet in the apartment it is however important to remember that they as the pet owner are legally responsible for what the pet does.
When are you allowed access to the apartment?
As the landlord you do not have the right to access your apartment without the approval of your tenant. There are, however, instances when you have the right to access the apartment:
• For necessary supervision, e.g. if you need to show how the apartment’s appliances work.
• For emergency repairs, e.g. water leaks.
• For non-emergency repairs, but then you need to contact the tenant beforehand.
• For showing the apartment to prospective tenants. This is to take place during the notice period, i.e. when the contract has been terminated. The current tenant who at the time of the showing lives in the apartment does not have to be present.
If your tenant is away from the apartment for a longer period of time, it is wise to leave a key with someone who can keep an eye on it. It can, but does not have to, be you as the landlord. If it is not you as a landlord it is wise if the tenant lets you know who has the spare key.
Do not let the subtenant pay the rent directly to the property owner (company). If the leaseholder wants to be certain not to get a record of non-payment they should always pay the rent to the property owner themselves.
When you have received approval from your landlord to sublet to a certain person you should meet up with this person before them gaining access to the apartment and create an inventory for all the furniture and fixtures that are included in the rental. The inventory should be signed and be given in one copy to the leaseholder and one copy to the subtenant – that way both will know what is what.
It is also important to in the same way create an inventory for potential flaws and damages to both the apartment and the furniture and fixtures – a suggestion is to photograph. You should also carry out a “moving out inspection” when the contract terminates.
You should never forget that it is the leaseholder (you) who has full responsible towards the property owner (company) when it comes to:
• having received permission to sublet,
• ensuring they receive the rent on time,
• that no disturbances occur during the rental period, and
• that the apartment is not damaged during the rental period.