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The average wait time for a rent-controlled apartment in Sweden is now over 9 years

I’m not all that familiar with Stockholm’s housing market, but according to this recent article, it would appear that, like most big cities, there isn’t enough affordable housing to go around. This is despite the fact that everyone in Sweden is technically entitled to it.

As of December 2021, there were 736,560 people (in Sweden) in the queue for a rent-controlled apartment, resulting in an average wait time of about 9.2 years. So basically what you want to do is put yourself on the list as soon as you turn 18. And then hope that at some point in the future you’ll be granted an affordable apartment.

Given this dynamic, it makes sense there would be a long waitlist. If everyone is entitled to a rent-controlled apartment, you are effectively giving people two options: pay the market price or put yourself on this list, wait for a decade, and then pay less than the market price.

Why wouldn’t you at least try to pay less?

The problem with this approach is that supply will almost certainly never keep pace with demand. It also appears to be fuelling a robust (and I guess illegal) secondary sublet market. Because if you have a below-market contract that is yours to keep forever and that lots of other people want, you have a valuable asset.

Getting housing right certainly isn’t easy.

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