Cases pile up against Danish landlords over rent hikes

Complaints against landlords for increasing rent are becoming increasingly backlogged in Denmark, according to a media report.

Cases pile up against Danish landlords over rent hikes
Extended processing times have been reported for rent appeals against landlords in Denmark. File photo: Asger Ladefoged/Ritzau Scanpix

The waiting time for a case to be assessed by the Danish rent appeals board, Huslejenævnet, has doubled in many areas since 2021, broadcaster DR has reported, based on figures from the Danish Authority of Social Services and Housing (Social- og Boligstyrelsen).

The appeals, which are submitted at municipalities, are piling up with a long waiting list for rent cases to be assessed according to the report.

According to the report, some people are having to wait up to a year and a half for an answer to an appeal after their landlords put up their rents. 

Danish law restricts the amount by which landlords can increase rent, and a 2022 amendment capped this limit at 4 percent due to concerns related to inflation.

But people whose rents have been hiked have to pay the higher rent while their appeal is under process and face economic uncertainty while the outcome is pending. 

Municipalities in which the problem is particularly severe include Frederiksberg, Hillerød and Høje Taastrup, where average processing times went from 190, 193 and 119 days respectively in 2021 to 416, 333 and 490 days respectively in 2022.

A national organisation for tenants, Lejernes Landsorganisation, called the situation in the Greater Copenhagen area “unacceptable”.

READ ALSO: Deposits, landlords and CPR registration: The worst things about renting a home in Denmark (2020)

“It’s important that the appeal boards process the appeals as quickly as possible. It can be a catastrophe for an individual person not to know their rent and it gives a lot of uncertainty about your finances,” the organisation’s chairperson for Greater Copenhagen Claus Højt, told DR.

Højte called for more resources to provide better staffing at municipal level.

Copenhagen Municipality has avoided major additional backlogs with an average processing time of 226 days in 2021 and 260 days last year.

“Cases have become more complex and we have received more of them. We got resources to make more rental appeals boards so we can process more cases and get waiting times down,” a senior official from the municipality, Jesper Hyldal, told the broadcaster.

Meanwhile, the interest organisation for landlords, Danske Udlejere, has advocated for a reduction of case numbers by making it more expensive for tenants to bring their cases to appeals boards. The current fee is 345 kroner.

“Tenants might think they can just as well try it because it has no consequences apart from putting a lot of people to work and straining the system,” the organisation’s chairperson Keld Frederiksen said. “It might be fair if it cost a lot of money, and if the tenant won the case, they get the money back. If the case is lost, so would the money be.”

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Why hot weather feels even hotter in Danish buildings

Denmark is in the top ten when it comes to countries worst prepared for a warmer climate, according to a new report.

Why hot weather feels even hotter in Danish buildings

While July has generally been one of the cooler summer months you’re likely to experience in Denmark, June was hot and dry.

In fact, last month’s high temperatures in Denmark may have felt particularly punishing because they were in Denmark rather than in a country better equipped to cope with hot weather.

Buildings and houses in the Nordic nation are relatively poorly equipped when it comes to high temperatures – something that could play an increasing role given changes to the climate expected in coming years.

A new report from Oxford University places Denmark among the countries which are the most poorly prepared for increasing global temperatures.

That is due in no small part to the construction of Denmark’s buildings, which historically has been with a different climate in mind to the one considered in the report, according to an expert who spoke to broadcaster DR.

“We design our buildings to keep the heat in for long periods and that’s why we have buildings that might not be ready for a future in which there’s a need for cooling,” Steffen Petersen, professor at Aarhus University’s Department of Civil and Architectural Engineering, told DR.

The use of glass in Danish buildings from the 1960s onwards is one important factor in this regard.

“We insulate well and also have large window panes which provide a good heat benefit, which is an important element in the winter to keep our energy consumption down. But it has the opposite effect in the summer where we don’t need a heat benefit, on the contrary it causes overheating,” Petersen said.

“Experts have always criticised this trend because it will end up with what we have now, a need for cooling in a country where we actually a characterised by temperatures that shouldn’t give the need for cooling,” he said.

The summer of 2018, which saw long unbroken spells of hot weather, brought the issue to the fore with reports of residents in newly-built developments in places like Aarhus Ø and the Nordhavn district of Copenhagen who found their homes so hot they were unable to stay in the living rooms, including at night.

What can be done to avoid overheated homes in the summer?

“There’s a risk that when people feel uncomfortable in their own homes with these temperatures, that they will invest in modern pumps that are relatively cheap and install them in urban areas to cool their homes, which gives increased energy use and noise pollution and would be bad for green transition,” Petersen said.

An expert with housing thinktank Bolius said that the problem was known in the real estate sector but there are steps residents can take.

That includes checking the size of west and south-facing windows and choosing home with a north-facing bedroom if possible.

“It’s this unfortunate problem that our houses are built like a thermos. They can keep the heat in during winter but also keep it inside once it’s already got in during the summer. Whereas old houses are a bit more draughty and are without such big windows,” Tue Patursson of Bolius told DR.

If you already live in an apartment that traps summer heat, there are mitigating steps advised by Patursson.

“Make sure the sun doesn’t get into the house. Look at what they do in the south. Use sun shades, parasols and curtains. They close off their houses during the daytime in summer with outside shutters, and doors and windows are closed so you keep inside the relatively cold temperature that you have in the evening and at night,” he said.