Uncertainty persists as rental negotiations stall

The situation regarding rent rises in Skellefteå's rental apartments is still uncertain. All housing companies are waiting for a resolution, and in the meantime, tenants are paying the old rent, despite it being past April 1st.

Top left :A Skebo block (Erikslid), bottom left an SBB block (Morö Backe). Marie Hjorth is responsible for the negotiations on behalf of the Tenants' Association.

Top left :A Skebo block (Erikslid), bottom left an SBB block (Morö Backe). Marie Hjorth is responsible for the negotiations on behalf of the Tenants' Association.

Foto: Yvonne Rönngren/Hyresgästföreningen

Skellefteå2023-04-24 09:37

The housing companies requested significant increases, resulting in a challenging negotiation situation. Skebo wanted to raise 7.81 percent, Samhällsbyggnadsbolaget 10.17 percent, Riksbyggen 10 percent and Heimstaden 9.27. 

The Property Owners' Association in Skellefteå, which includes small companies, is seeking a 10.17% increase. Gretabo has requested 10%, and Storo Fastigheter i Skellefteå 10.70%.

Although the new rents were due to take effect from April 1st, none of the mentioned companies have finalized negotiations. As a result, tenants had to pay the old rent for April, and the notices for May are also at the old level.

Skebo has made the most progress in negotiations. They recognized in March that an agreement would not be possible and, therefore, requested mediation from the rental market committee.

Anna Ersson, marketing manager at Skebo, acknowledges that there are unusually many unresolved cases this year, leading to waiting times to get the matter settled. She cites significant cost increases in electricity, interest, maintenance, and other operations as reasons for the proposed rent hikes.

The other three companies have not requested mediation and will try to reach an agreement regardless.

The tenant association's office in Skellefteå.

The tenant association is the counterparty in negotiations, led by Marie Hjorth, head of negotiations for Norrland. According to Hjorth, no company in Skellefteå has reached an agreement yet.

–There is no rule stating that the public benefit negotiations, which refers to municipal companies, must be completed first, though it is relatively common to do so," she explains.

Marie Hjorth does not disclose the association's position on acceptable levels of rate rises, stating that they will not reveal their stance until negotiations are complete. However, she notes that many companies in Norrbotten, including those in Luleå, Kiruna, and Gällivare, have agreed to increases of 3.95%.

When asked if Skellefteå has any deviating conditions that would justify a higher or lower increase, Hjorth does not believe so.. 

Marie Hjorth, head of negotiations, Norrland Region Tenants' Association.

Regarding the companies' starting bids of around 10%, she notes that similar demands have been common throughout the country and should be seen as exceptional.

– While it is true that the companies' costs have increased significantly, it is unknown how long these levels will persist. Even if costs decrease, rents will never decrease. Therefore, it is important to look at an average, and that there is an agreement in place to review over three years, she explains.

– It should be remembered that the companies have had many years of low costs, such as low interest rates. Nevertheless, rents typically increased between one and two percent, she adds.

Rent increases in the last 22 years, the average for the entire country.

What happens once the agreements are settled? Theoretically, the difference between the old and new rent can be collected for April and May, and perhaps even more months if the agreements are delayed.

–The rent increase can be retroactive, but this increase is often waived. For example, last year, the new rent was effective from May 1, says Anna Ersson at Skebo.

– It's usually difficult to collect rent retroactively. If it is for several months, the extra cost can be high and difficult for many to pay," says Catarina Holmér, property manager at Samhällsbyggnadbolaget in Skellefteå.