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 the entire apartment. If you are only renting 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 a rental apartment this is governed by the Swedish Tenancy Act (Hyreslagen).
Approval is required
If you are subletting a rented apartment your landlord needs the have permission from their landlord (normally a property company). If your landlord does not receive permission, they can apply for permission from the Rent and Tenancy Tribunal. In that case they will need to prove that they have both a compelling reason as to why they cannot use the apartment and reasons why they 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.
The landlord (property company) does however have the right to deny permission if there are compelling reasons to do so. Such reasons could be that the proposed subtenant (you) 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 your landlord is subletting without permission they can lose their contract, meaning they will lose their apartment. In such cases you would also lose your accommodation, so make sure that your landlord has received permission to sublet. 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.
Your landlord can ask for a deposit from you 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 it is stated clearly in the contract what the deposit regards so that you a a tenant know what you are obliged to do in order to get the deposit back. If it is not set out in the contract what the deposit is for you should not pay the deposit.
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.
Termination and duration of the contract
Keep in mind that there are mandatory legal obligations for the benefit of the subtenant (you). This means that if the tenancy period has been set to a year the leaseholder (your landlord) cannot break this contract ahead of time if they want to move back home for some reason. However, regardless of the agreed renal period the subtenant (you) 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 of 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.
Akademisk kvart always recommend that you as the tenant get your own home insurance. If you are an international student, check what your insurance from your home country covers and whether the more general insurance you have through the university could act as a home insurance.
Alterations to the apartment
As the subtenant you are allowed to put your own personal mark on the apartment. You can for example repaint or change the wallpaper in the apartment. You do not need the landlord’s permission for this, as long the work is professionally done. If alterations are not made professionally you may need to pay for renovations or restorations. You are allowed to hang paintings in the accommodation, 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. You are also not allowed to put up walls or install a sauna or a kitchen ventilator.
If you would like to change some cabinet doors this is fine as long as you keep the old doors. Those belong to the landlord. You do not have the right to receive money from the landlord for fees relating to the changes they have made to the accommodation if these were not checked with the 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. It is however important to remember that you as the pet owner are legally responsible for what the pet does.
When do you have to give your landlord access to the apartment?
Your landlord does not have the right to access the apartment without your permission. There are, however, instances when they have the right to access the apartment:
• For necessary supervision, e.g. if they need to show how the apartment’s appliances work.
• For emergency repairs, e.g. water leaks.
• For non-emergency repairs, but then they need to contact you 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. You do not have to be present, however.
If you are 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 be your landlord, but you can also choose to give the key to another person. The landlord should however be informed of who has the spare key.
If you rent a furnished apartment it is a good idea to write an inventory list together with the landlord. You should also, together with the landlord or on you own, document any wear and tear in the apartment when you move in. Be thorough and take pictures of any damage. Report what you have found to the landlord if they were not present during the inspection. Otherwise there is a risk that the landlord thinks that you have caused the damage and demand you pay the repairs. You should keep a copy of the inventory list and the damage list. Your landlord should also receive a copy of each list. When you are moving out you and your landlord should go through the apartment and check the condition against your lists.
Always remember that it is the leaseholder, your landlord, who has full responsible towards the property owner (company) when it comes to:
• having received permission to sublet (however it is in your interest that everything is in order, so it is preferable to double check this with your landlord), and
• if anything needs to be urgently repaired in the apartment, e.g. if there is a leak or you have vermin. Du are responsible for letting your landlord know immediately if there is a problem though.
Keep in mind that you are only allowed to use the apartment for what it is meant for, i.e. to live in. You are not allowed to, e.g., conduct business in a residence.