What is a first-hand apartment?
It means that you rent the apartment directly from the property owner, as opposed to renting from someone who in turn rents the apartment. The latter case is called subletting. Renting first-hand comes with a number of advantages: First-hand contracts often have significantly lower rent than sublets and you usually get to rent the dwelling indefinitely, meaning without a move-out date. You also often have occupancy rights from the first day of the contract, whereas subletting is more risky. Occupancy rights mean that you have the right to stay in the apartment even if the landlord wants you to move out, under certain conditions, such as paying the rent.
How do you get a first-hand contract?
There are many ways to a first-hand contract, but it is often a long and time-consuming process. In major cities, there is a greater housing shortage and it is significantly harder to get a contract. Finding housing in Stockholm is especially challenging.
Join a housing queue
There are hundreds of housing queues in Sweden, both for private and municipal landlords. The length of the queues varies greatly depending on how well-known they are, where in the country they are located, and which apartments you choose to apply for. Sometimes a few months in a housing queue is enough, but it can often take several years before you get an apartment that suits you. Getting a first-hand contract in Stockholm's inner city takes up to 20 years through the city's own queue, Stockholms bostadsförmedling, which costs 200 SEK per year to join. Many private queues are shorter, especially if you can apply for student or youth housing, then you can get an apartment after just a few months. These queues are usually free to join but require you to log in to each queue regularly to maintain your place in line. It is smart to join as many queues as possible, it increases the chance of getting an apartment within a reasonable time. It also gives you the opportunity to continuously move to a new residence that fits into your stage of life. If you have accumulated enough queue points in several different queues, you can always get a housing that suits you. dibz.se helps you find and join 150 different housing queues, ensuring you have a secure place in each queue without having to think about regular logins. For 35 SEK per month, you get access to easy registration in Sweden's housing queues, as well as automatic logins and a good overview of all your housing queue accounts.
There are two types of interest registrations: Where you express interest in individual vacant apartments advertised on the landlord's website or another platform. This can be done on, for example, HomeQ and Wåhlins fastigheter. Where you pre-register your interest in renting housing from the landlord, who in turn then recommends residences that suit your profile. You then apply to rent the specific apartment. For example, Botrygg and Magnussons fastigheter operate this way. After an interest registration, the landlord evaluates your profile and selects a number of people who are invited to view the apartment, then the landlord chooses who gets to rent the housing.
Contact private landlords
Some smaller landlords do not have public mediation but let acquaintances rent the apartments. Even some larger property owners can rent out aside from the queue when it comes to short-term contracts or other special circumstances. Therefore, you can get a contract by calling, emailing, and posting your interest directly to the lessor. Here it is important to present yourself as a good tenant and keep your fingers crossed that the landlord takes a liking to your application. You can find lists of private landlords for free on sites like Hyresvärdslistan or Ledigalägenheter.
First-come, first-served & lottery
Some property companies mediate some of the apartments through a "first-come, first-served lottery", where vacant apartments are published at a certain time and applicants must express interest within an hour, then the apartment is raffled among those who managed to express interest. Other landlords choose to give the apartment to the very first person who expresses interest. Examples of landlords who have this type of mediation are Byggvesta, Wåhlin and Bostadssnabben at Stockholm's municipal housing mediation.
Buying a contract
It happens that people buy and sell first-hand contracts even though it is both illegal and risky. The magazine Hem & Hyra reports that a rental contract in Stockholm can cost up to 1.5 million in Stockholm's inner city (2019) and that up to half of all contracts that change hands involve illegal transactions. It can be a landlord who sells the contract themselves or a previous holder of the contract. Both the buyer and seller of the contract risk imprisonment, and the buyer also risks losing the contract if the transaction is discovered.Inheriting a contractIf you have a relative or acquaintance with a contract, there are some cases where you have the chance to take it over. You then need to be ready to justify to the landlord why you should take over the contract and present yourself as a suitable tenant. The landlord may in some cases find it convenient to avoid looking for a new suitable tenant. In some cases, the Rent Tribunal can decide on the transfer despite the landlord's denial. Then you often need to have lived in the residence before, be closely related to the current contract holder, and have a good economy. Read more about inheriting a contract at Boupplysningen. Those who systematically apply, join housing queues, network, and keep their eyes open have a good chance of eventually securing a good first-hand contract. We recommend that you join all relevant housing queues as soon as possible and if the housing need is urgent, continue looking elsewhere while the queue days tick in all the queues. To start collecting queue points in Sweden's housing queues automatically and without administrative work, create an account on dibz.se.